Getting the Pill OTC?

After spending the past year listening to Catholic spokesmen attacking health care laws that provide funding for birth control, I’m curious to see their reaction to this article from the LA Times:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a call Tuesday for birth control pills to be sold over the counter. Currently oral contraceptives are available only with a doctor’s prescription.

In a policy statement, the organization argues that making birth control pills easier to get will translate into fewer unwanted pregnancies. These unplanned pregnancies remain a major problem in the United States, they write, accounting for approximately 50% of all pregnancies. And such pregnancies, they argue, do not just interrupt lives — they also cost a fortune, with a price tag of approximately $11.1 billion per year, according to an analysis published in the academic journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

According to the obstetricians and gynecologists, one major reason women at risk for unintended pregnancies don’t use birth control is that they don’t have regular access to a doctor, either for practical reasons or because they are uninsured. And in a 2004 telephone survey conducted by an Oakland based nonprofit, 47% of the uninsured women who currently do not use birth control say they would use it if it were available over the counter, like Tylenol or Benadryl. Another recent survey, conducted by public health experts in Texas, found that 60% of women not on birth control pills would use it if they could buy it without a prescription. Such statistics, they argue, make plain the need to increase access. [...]

One issue that the group concedes is a real hurdle is the potential for increased costs. Currently, birth control is covered by health insurance; whether that would continue if the pills were available over the counter is unclear.

Very interesting. The one thing I’m worried about is the potential for blood clots, but I’m assuming that other people have already considered the risk of that. I know that many women have adverse reactions to the pill – one women complained about three weeks of bad PMS – but as the College suggests those women can monitor themselves.

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