Opinion: State senator says gubernatorial candidate isn't playing fair on important topic.

In 2015, I co-led House Bill 2879 to allow pharmacists to prescribe oral hormonal contraceptives and hormonal contraceptive patches, commonly known as "the pill" and "the patch." The bill passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown. This was the first time Oregon pharmacists had prescriptive authority for birth control, and provides a great opportunity for pharmacies to take a more active role in improving reproductive health outcomes.Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward

As a proud pro-choice policymaker, I am committed to passing legislation that removes barriers and expands access to birth control. As a family physician, I want to ensure policies I've supported, like HB 2879, are accurately assessed, improved and expanded with medically informed research.

Research on pharmacist-prescribed birth control has only just begun, and while we wait for these important results, Knute Buehler, who co-led the effort, has repeatedly misrepresented and exaggerated the impact of pharmacist-prescribed birth control for political posturing. Buehler must think pro-choice voters will be fooled by this over-inflation of his record. What Buehler has failed to mention in his political pitch about being pro-choice is his decision to vote against Oregon's 2017 Reproductive Health Equity Act, the most important pro-choice bill in decades. In fact, his meetings with Right to Life and his public statement that he's "not for public funds going to fund abortion" make it clear that he is decidedly not pro-choice.

Expanding access to birth control is one of many integral pieces of reproductive health care services. When the law is fully implemented, we expect to see a reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies in Oregon from HB 2879. However, pro-choice voters understand that supporting access to contraception is not the same as being pro-choice, and access to abortions is essential in allowing women to make informed choices in planning for their future. In the meantime, Buehler should publicly support the policies proven to decrease the rates of unintended teen and adult pregnancies, including medically accurate and comprehensive youth sexual health education, increasing health care coverage (including no-cost birth control), and most importantly, increasing — not reducing — access to abortion care.

Health care policy implementation takes time, collaboration and thorough evaluation. But with his comments on HB 2879, Buehler has shown that he is more interested in grandstanding and campaigning than doing the on-the-ground work to ensure that this new policy is making contraception more accessible and affordable for the women who need it most. While this bill is a step in the right direction for reproductive health care, we should be wary of a politician more interested in headlines than health outcomes.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward represents Beaverton in the Oregon Legislature. She also is a medical doctor.

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