aNewDomain — In most countries in the world, women are able to access birth control without a prescription. But today, women in the United States are unable to get birth control over the counter. That’s about to change in California and Oregon, and more states are expected to follow right behind.
California and Oregon are two states that now have passed laws to expand access to contraceptives. In both states, women will be able to get birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives directly from their pharmacists, without a prescription from a doctor. The changes will go into effect this October in California and in Oregon, next January.
Full disclosure: I work for a company, called Nurx, which is building an app that aims to give people access to preventative medication, including birth control. To launch at the end of this summer, the goal is to slash the waiting period for seeing a doctor in person. The app will allow a doctor to write the prescription, which will then be delivered to the patient within a couple of hours. Patients will also have the option for 1-1 consultations if they would like. By slashing the waiting period, we are making birth control more accessible. I’d love to hear from aNewDomain readers about your hopes for such an app. If you have thoughts, just leave them at the end of this article.
Below are four reasons why I believe birth control should be available over the counter in the United States.
1.) Access to Birth Control Reduces The Teen Birth Rate
Earlier this month, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that the state’s teen birth rate dropped 40% between 2009 and 2013. This was in large part due to a program that provides contraception to low-income women.
2.) Access to Birth Control Decreases Abortion Rates
Lack of readily available contraception and sex education are the top reasons for abortions. Last year, a study by Washington University School of Medicine researchers showed that when barriers to contraceptive access are removed, teen pregnancy and abortion rates plummet.
3.) Seventy Percent Favor Legalizing Over the Counter Birth Control
Today, over 99% of women ages 15-44 have used at least one contraceptive method. This is an issue which women across the political spectrum seem to agree with — it should be available without a prescription. According to a Reason-Rupe poll, “70 percent of Americans favor legalizing over the counter birth control pills and patches without a doctor’s prescription.”
4.) It Saves Taxpayers Billions of Dollars
According to a study posted in the New England Journal of Medicine, “In 2010, births involving teenage mothers cost the United States nearly $10 billion in increased public assistance and health care and in income lost as a result of lower educational attainment and reduced earnings among children born to teenage mothers.” By preventing pregnancies, taxpayers would save billions of dollars each year.
Infographic credit: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
For aNewDomain, I’m Kyle McCarthy.