Let's Abort the Three-Month Birth Control Rule

birth control pillsSay you're on birth control. You like it, it works for you, especially because you're trying to prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortion. The pill you're on hasn't caused gallstones/blood clots/low libido (like it does for some women). You're good. You don't want a baby again for at least a year, so you'd like a prescription that will last you that long. Plus, you don't want to have to go back to your doctor in three to six months for another prescription.

But, sorry, that's just too damn bad. Because your insurance limits how many months' worth of the drug you're allowed to have prescribed at once. Why? They don't trust you to know how to take care of yourself ... because you're a WOMAN.


This twisted logic has been frustrating women on the pill for years. In fact, about three-quarters of U.S. women on birth control pills receive no more than a three-month supply at a time. Obviously, it's ridiculous -- just like it makes absolutely no sense that we have to have an exam to get a script for fluconozole (the yeast infection oral drug). Most adult women know what a yeast infection is, and what they need to cure it, but it doesn't matter, because insurance companies and doctors have to hold our hands to confirm what we already know and prove we don't really have an STD or a bacterial infection.

Thankfully, there are researchers who are proving what is already obvious to many of us: Giving women a longer-lasting supply of the pill leads to fewer unplanned pregnancies. It's pretty obvious why. Because if you have the darn pills just laying there in your house, you can take them continuously without interruption. Without worrying. Without having to schedule and cough up a co-pay for an unnecessary visit to the doc for a little piece of paper stating, "This woman is approved to be in control of her own reproductive health."

The Obstetrics & Gynecology-published study found that lower-income California women who were given a year's supply of the pill experience fewer unplanned pregnancies than those who only get enough packages for one to three months at a time. For every 1,000 women who participated in the study, 10 in the longer-supply group became pregnant within a year, compared to 30 of those who could only get prescriptions for shorter supplies.

It's not all that shocking that a one-year supply is "linked" to a reduction in the odds of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. And, umm, isn't that what big-mouths on both sides of the anti-abortion/pro-choice movement want? Anti-abortion activists couldn't possibly want there to be more unintended pregnancies and illegal abortions ... so then, why kill off family planning clinics where women can obtain birth control? Why prevent women from having an adequate supply of birth control they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions? It doesn't add up whatsoever.

Right now, in California and a few other states, publicly funded programs let lower-income women who do not otherwise qualify for Medicaid get a year's worth of birth control pills from a family-planning clinic, like Planned Parenthood -- but not a pharmacy.

The math is simple. Subtract Planned Parenthood equals a severe limit on women's access to birth control -- which, as we can see, is already unnecessarily limited -- and there will be consequences, namely MORE unwanted pregnancies and abortions. If that isn't the definition of backasswards and nonsensical, I'm not quite sure what is.

How do you feel about prescriptions for a year's supply of birth control pills?



Image via Nate Grigg/Flickr

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