Birth Control Should Be Sold Over the Counter Just Like Aspirin

Rant 33

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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Flori... Floridamom96

Wow! No it shouldn't. Hormones have a substantial effect on a body and should be monitored by a physician. This is completely irresponsible.

nonmember avatar ruthless1

No they should not be OTC. They are hormones and can have a powerful negative effect on some people and a healthcare provider needs to be able to check you out periodically and make sure you are not having issues. I had really bad headaches after starting the pill...when I went back for the refill and the dr asked about it, we discovered it was raising my blood pressure unusually and putting me at risk for stroke. If I had gotten the pills OTC, I probably would have written off the headaches as stress or something and not even known about the blood pressure until something really bad had happened. Furthermore,look at how many lawyers advertise group law suits against birth control. No way are they safe enough to be OTC.

jec72579 jec72579

FloridaMom: I couldn't disagree with you more!!! The LAST thing we as a country need is more single moms on Welfare. Most of these moms have no insurance, thus no means of getting birth control. If this will help a FRACTION of these moms NOT become pregnant again, and using MY tax dollars to raise THEIR families, I am ALL FOR birth control being OTC. Absolutely!!!! 

I agree 100% with the writer, in all of the other items that she lists that are OTC, and Not illegal, that cause greater harm than good.... The good will vastly outweigh any harm caused. I don't see a downside.

Elise48 Elise48

I'm not sure about OTC since there are sooo many different formulations and they can affect your body in different ways. BUT, without a prescription through the phamacist would be a great compromise I think.

SKDMo... SKDMom1020

Floridamom is right.  Birth control pills can cause high blood pressure, strokes, blood clots, etc.  A person's medical background has a lot of bearing on the the brand the doctor prescribes.  If someone can't afford to see a doctor, they can go to the public health clinic and get them very easily.  Maybe, just maybe, our restrictions wouldn't be so severe (the author compares other countries being able to get all kinds of meds over the counter) if we didn't have such a "sue happy" country.  What is going to happen when someone dies a result of taking the pill without a prescription?  They will sue the drug company, who in turn will have to raise prices, it's a vicious cycle.

Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

I just go through PP for my birth control. It costs me $21 a pack and I can get as many packs as I want at once. They require you to get a physical once a year to continue getting the prescription through them as well. There is no reason why it has become so difficult for people to access birth control. All it takes is finding your local PP and getting an exam. There are always options out there. If there is an easier way to make birth control more accessible then I am all for it. There are way too many people using and abusing the system by having kids they didn't want or couldn't care for. 

LeeshaE LeeshaE

I agree otc should be an option yeah there are risks with any otc drugs but you need to read the fine print and be aware of your own body. Without health insurance its difficult to obtain, I've been in situations where I make too much for any clinic to be affordable yet cannot afford the health care offered through my employer and I sell health insurance among other things. Now I am just lucky that my boss pays my health insurance in full.

nonmember avatar anon

In Illinois, if you don't have insurance, there is something called the healthy woman's card. It covers routine things like pap smears and covers the cost of birth control. I think all states should have a program like that.

The pill shouldn't be OTC, the hormones can reek havok on your body, there's interactions, and risks. It's a prescription now for a reason, it's safer to take it under a doctor's care. Not only that, but the pill doesn't work for everyone. If you take antibiotics, they don't work. People with seizure disorders who take medication to control it can't take the pill, they're limited to an IUD or the depo-provera shot. Yes, it would be convenient for BC to be over the counter, but it's just not a good idea.

Angie... AngieHayes

You can walk in and get condoms, why not birth control?

CLM3345 CLM3345

The writer's doctor must be a real hard ass if she wouldn't just call in the RX. Even if the pharmacy wouldn't fill it  - did your doc really make you come in? I would just call mine, tell her what the pharmacy said, and she'd email me the new RX. I agree it should be easier to get. I think OTC isn't a wonderful idea. There are so many different kinds, women should still go to their doc first to get her advise on which kind to get. I do think the doc should be allowed to give you a 12 month RX so you can get the full year at once. Then every year at your pap exam, just get a new RX.

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