Birth Control Should Be Sold Over the Counter Just Like Aspirin

A doctor's group has recommended that the birth control pill be available over the counter, without a prescription. Hallelujah, I couldn't agree more. Happy dance! When I first started taking the pill, sometime in my mid-20s, it was fairly easy to get -- despite having to go to a doctor, something that, of course, you can really only do with health insurance. Even then, I'd have to call a month or so in advance to get an appointment. And then take an hour or so off of work. But, hey, my Ob-Gyn would write a birth control prescription for me for the whole year. I'd just hop to the pharmacy and get my refill. No problemo. But, for whatever reason, it seems things have gotten more complex lately. You'd think I was trying to get a nuclear warhead.


First, the crackdown began on the timing of prescriptions. I noticed a few years ago that if you didn't get your prescription filled at the exact time you needed the refill, they simply wouldn't give it to you. This happened to me when I was out of the country for a couple of weeks. I came back, tried to fill the prescription, and was told it was "old." Uh, two weeks old?! I had to make another gyno appointment.

Another time, I had to leave the city and wanted to get my script filled before I left -- since it would run out when I was gone. Again, couldn't do it. This time, it was "too early" and they refused to overlap refills. Is someone worried I'm going to overdose on birth control?! This isn't Xanax, people!

A few years later, I switched to another insurance and tried to get recurring birth control prescriptions. This insurance plan wouldn't let me do it at all. I could go as far ahead as three months, but then I'd have to go see my doctor again for another prescription. Seeing your gyno every three months?! Does anyone realize that a lot of women work and this makes life very difficult?!

I'm always astonished when I go to other countries and see how readily available things are that, in the States, you'd need to go through a big song and dance for. You can get contact lenses over the counter. You can get codeine. Antibiotics. Viagra. It's really only here in the U.S. -- where the government is in the back pocket of the pharmaceutical and insurance industry -- that you need a prescription for EVERYTHING.

Groups against the idea cite the "health risks" of the pill as a reason why it shouldn't be over the counter. Health risks can include heart attack and stroke and hormone-based cancers. But seriously? Heart attacks are far more common because of most of the fatty foods sold prescription-free in grocery stores and fast food restaurants. People die from caffeine-laced drinks. Don't need a script for those! Tylenol can cause liver damage if you take too much. Yet anyone can walk into a store and buy it. As for cancer? How about a little thing called cigarettes that anyone can buy anywhere, anytime?

We know what this is really about. Making you go to the doctor so they can charge your insurance company a couple of hundred bucks for the five seconds it took to write out your script. And making life difficult for women who may not want to spend their whole lives pregnant.

Do you think birth control should be over the counter?


Image via nateone/Flickr

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