CHICAGO, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Thursday which gave Illinoisans access to birth control over the counter.

By removing barriers to care, like lack of access to a doctor willing to prescribe birth control, House Bill 0135 increases access to hormonal contraception.

“This legislation that I’m signing into law today makes Illinois one of the first states in the Midwest to provide birth control over the counter, making contraceptives all the more accessible and affordable in our state,” Pritzker said. “In 2019, when I signed the Reproductive Health Act into law, I said that in Illinois we guarantee as a fundamental right, a woman’s right to choose. Today, we take yet another stand to fulfill that promise.”

State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) said the issue is simple: birth control saves lives and prevents unplanned pregnancy.

“Family planning and reproductive health care is a personal choice that should not be limited by economic or social status,” Bush said. “I thank my colleagues and Gov. Pritzker for taking strides toward creating a more equitable health care system through providing greater access to contraceptives.”

The legislation mandates that state-regulated insurance policies cover birth control prescribed by pharmacists to ensure that the price of contraception stays affordable.

“HB135 is a landmark piece of legislation in our state. By increasing access to contraception for the women of Illinois, we reinforce our state as one that prioritizes women’s health,” said Dr. Michelle Brown, OB-GYN, Northwestern University. “Contraceptive access through pharmacists is key to allowing women to safely exercise authority over their reproductive lives, and by joining 16 other states in this initiative, we move one step closer to the goal of true over-the-counter contraception.”

HB 0135 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022 with provisions affecting the insurance code going into effect Jan. 1, 2023.