R Sheet on Birth Control Access in Georgia


Marc Hyden
Director, State Government Affairs
Courtney Joslin
Resident Fellow and Senior Manager, Competition Policy

Key Points

Many women have limited access to contraception.

60 percent of pregnancies in Georgia are unintended.

Taxpayers spent nearly $1 billion covering the medical costs associated with Georgia’s unintended
pregnancies in 2010.

A pharmacy access model would allow pharmacists to prescribe contraception, which they are qualified to do, and would give women more family planning options.

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In the last several years, 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed pharmacy access bills, which allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception to women. These bills expand pharmacists’ scope of practice and increase access to birth control for women—especially those who don’t have a regular physician, can’t afford an appointment or live in areas where doctors are in short supply.

Georgia could benefit from such a change, considering that USA Today recently ranked it as one of the nation’s most unhealthy states. In part, this is because many Georgians face a medical shortage and are unable to access the care they need. The Peach State has the 44th worst primary-care-physician-to-patient ratio, 79 of 159 counties have no OBGYNs and nine counties have no medical doctors whatsoever as of 2018. Clearly, women in need of birth control face many barriers to access, which has adversely affected Georgia’s public health.

In 2010, 60 percent of pregnancies in Georgia were unintended. 58 percent of these were carried to term, 28 percent resulted in abortions and the remainder resulted in miscarriages. Georgia’s unintended pregnancy rate is incredibly high compared to the national average, which was 45 percent in 2011. The pharmacy access model would offer women in Georgia better access to effective contraception and would help prevent unintended pregnancies.

Unplanned pregnancies in Georgia are costly. In 2010, federal and state funds paid for over 80 percent of unintended births in Georgia. This amounted to over $917 million—almost $230 million of which was shouldered by the state government.3

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