Western states lead effort to let pharmacists prescribe birth control

Groundbreaking laws in two Western states will soon make access to birth control easier for millions of women by allowing them to obtain contraceptives from pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription.

Even as the Supreme Court prepares to consider another divisive case involving access to contraception, public health advocates hope these arrangements could spread across the country, as states grappling with persistently high rates of unintended pregnancy seek to increase access to birth control with measures that so far have been unavailable under federal law.

Most Western countries require a doctor’s prescription for hormonal contraceptives like pills, patches and rings, but starting sometime in the next few months, women in California and Oregon will be able to obtain these types of birth control by getting a prescription directly from the pharmacist who dispenses them, a more convenient and potentially less expensive option than going to the doctor.

Pharmacists will be authorized to prescribe contraceptives after a quick screening process in which women fill out a questionnaire about their health and medical histories. The contraceptives will be covered by insurance, as they are now…

About half of the 6.6 million pregnancies annually in the United States are unintended, a higher proportion than in Europe.

But, EU nations aren’t often controlled by fundamentalist Christian voting blocs.

Reproductive health groups and medical associations increasingly say the ultimate goal should be to make contraceptives available without a prescription, and some worry that the push for pharmacist-prescribed contraceptives could thwart that…

Cost is another possible drawback of over-the-counter sales. The Affordable Care Act does not explicitly require plans to cover over-the-counter medications, so women might wind up paying hundreds of dollars a year for over-the-counter birth control instead of obtaining it free with a prescription…

A New Mexico proposal that failed in 2012 is expected to be revised to reflect the Oregon and California measures, said Dale Tinker, the executive director of the New Mexico Pharmacists Association…

One unanswered question, however, is whether insurers will pay for the time pharmacists spend reviewing women’s questionnaires or helping evaluate options…

And then there will be the states ruled by politicians who believe the Old Testament is a better gauge of how a women’s life should be governed.

California woman busted after planting poisoned juice at Starbucks

A 50-year-old pharmacist arrested Monday after police say she filled two bottles of orange juice with what appeared to be rubbing alcohol at a San Jose Starbucks will be released, most likely Thursday evening, until lab tests return confirming what was actually inside the bottles, prosecutors said.

Ramineh Behbehanian of San Jose was booked on an attempted murder charge because the orange juice contained what police said were lethal quantities of isopropyl alcohol.

But her scheduled court date of Thursday was postponed, because prosecutors did not yet have enough information to charge her.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney could still charge her, but prosecutors won’t know with what until the lab results of the orange juice come back…

San Jose police are still not sure why she would have allegedly mixed rubbing alcohol with some orange juice Monday afternoon, left the bottles in the refrigerated section alongside some yogurt and milk, and left the Snell Avenue Starbucks store about 3:30 p.m.

An alert customer standing behind her in line spotted her taking out her own bottles of juice from a green Starbucks bag, and put them in the refrigerator section. He also noticed a toxic smell. He told management. The woman might have felt under suspicion, police said, but a Starbucks employee got her license plate.

The San Jose Fire Department responded to the scene, retrieved the bottles and tested the contents with hazardous materials equipment. It turned out, the bottles were filled with orange juice and rubbing alcohol.

A Starbucks spokesperson told NBC Bay Area that the company destroyed all the other juices in the Snell Avenue store out of an abundance of caution and had all other stores in Bay Area check their juice seals…All checked out OK.

Yes – the world has too many loonies.

Fortunately, there is a modicum of bright, nosy people who notice potentially dangerous crap like this. Sometimes. There will be some privacy freaks who don’t want someone noticing what anyone else is about. That’s understandable to a certain extent. But, protecting yourself and other folks from someone who may think they have a terrific reason for killing innocent folks – I think is admirable.

Too bad there wasn’t someone like the Starbucks barista or the customer in that line who noticed Behbehanian adding tainted juice bottles to the cooler – someone paying attention to a couple of murderers in Massachusetts before they completed their bomb run.

And, yes – it brings up the inevitable question of surveillance in public areas. One I revisit from time to time though my response remains the same. Good tech makes thorough surveillance more possible every year, more affordable, more capable. The same questions about Big Brother have to be confronted. And someone must watch the watchers. Not just the troops on duty, the bureaucrats in charge. Because abuse of surveillance systems are always a legitimate political concern.