Petition hopes to make birth control more accessible for New Mexicans during pandemic

Health News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An online petition is gaining steam, hoping to make birth control more accessible during the pandemic, and one of the states it’s targeting is New Mexico. With offices closed or limiting hours, health care access for some has been impacted by the pandemic. One organization says this is where telemedicine is vital for prescription refill needs, like birth control.

“For some women, it’s medically necessary for birth control, whether it’s endometriosis or PCOS,” said Carrie SiuButt, CEO of Simple Health and one of the organizers behind the petition. “It’s a lot of running around, a lot of touch points in a world where it’s not even safe to walk out the door without your mask on.”

An online petition says telemedicine — removing the need for an in-person visit to the office — is still restricted in states like New Mexico. The petition says the state does not support asynchronous telemedicine which allows for prescriptions to be filled via text message or online forms, rather than a virtual Facetime visit with the doctor.

“What we do is SMS or online consultations and some of these laws prohibit patients from gaining medication through those types of communications,” said SiuButt. “I don’t think people realize it’s only possible in about half the states right now, that you can actually do it, per state law.”

We reached out to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office and they say birth control and other prescriptions are available through telemedicine. Her office also tells KRQE that New Mexicans can get between 6-12 months of birth control at a time, depending on their provider, and a pharmacist can also prescribe hormonal birth control. Simple Health, one of the organizations behind the petition, says it’s still not enough, and they hope to gather enough grassroots movement to make further changes.

“We feel strongly that the legislation shouldn’t be holding back women to get access to birth control within the confines of their home,” said SiuButt. “We really want to see how much grassroots support we can get from this.”

Organizers say limits on telehealth services can still force patients to travel to the office and pharmacy to fill basic prescriptions. The petition is posted online.

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