Coming soon to a pharmacy near you: prescription birth control — if you live in California or Oregon, at least.

That’s the timely reminder provided by The New York Times this Sunday, as the paper detailed the lead-up to the enactment of new laws in each respective state that will allow pharmacists to prescribe certain medications, birth control included, to their customers. Pharmacists throughout the country have been allowed to prescribe medications under certain circumstances and in certain regions, but the two states will be the first to explicitly broaden pharmacists’ prescribing prowess. It’s hoped that the changes can make birth control more accessible, therefore reducing the rate of unintended pregnancies.

“I feel strongly that this is what’s best for women’s health in the 21st century, and I also feel it will have repercussions for decreasing poverty because one of the key things for women in poverty is unintended pregnancy,” State Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Oregon), who sponsored the Oregon bill, told The Times.

Birth Control For All

While the new method of prescription in each state is largely similar, there are some differences. Oregon’s law will allow pharmacists to prescribe the pill and the patch to women over the age of 18 without a prior prescription from their doctor, while requiring one for those under 18. In either case, Oregon pharmacists will need to undergo a training period before they’re able to do so. California pharmacists, on the other hand, will need to obtain more extensive training, but in exchange will be able to perform a wide range of medical services such as prescribing cessation aids for quitting smoking and medications for traveling abroad; administering routine vaccinations to children aged 3 and older; and ordering laboratory tests, among others.

Both states will require women to undergo a relatively simple screening by the pharmacist before they can be given their birth control, while California’s law will ask them to take the woman’s blood pressure if their contraceptive contains estrogen. These prescriptions will continue to be paid for by insurers regardless of where they’re obtained.

California’s new system, perhaps owning to its greater complexity, is believed to come into effect sometime next year, while the Oregon law will be implemented Jan. 1 (another related Oregon law will require insurers to also cover a 12-month supply of birth control in addition to the 30-day and 60-day batches prescribed currently).

While the laws have been widely celebrated by advocacy organizations from all sides of the fields, there are some who worry that Oregon and California’s new laws might interfere with the larger goal of making more contraceptives over-the-counter. “My basic tenet is there should be nobody between the patient and the pill,” Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told The Times. “I’m afraid we’re going to create a new model that becomes a barrier between that and over the counter. I worry that it’s going to derail the over-the-counter movement.”

Others are worried that the ability to pick up birth control from the pharmacy will discourage women from obtaining regular check-ups and recommended cancer screenings from their physicians. Perhaps as a precaution against that, Oregon’s law will prohibit a pharmacist from refilling a prescription if the woman in question hasn’t seen her doctor in the three years following their initial dose of birth control.

Should Oregon and California’s new system work out, though, it’s likely that other states will follow in their example.