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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zandh... zandhmom2

No, it shouldn't be sold over the counter.  It is a form of medicine and should be regulated through your doctor. If I went and did one of those high blood pressure machines while shopping at my grocery store and my pressure was up that day for what ever reason, I shouldn't be able to go over to the medicine aisle and just pick me up some high blood pressure pills.  Maybe it's just high today because I'm stressed or sick.  I don't want to be able to "self" diagnosismyself because Lord knows when I go on the internet with a few symptoms, I usually end up with about 10 different diseases. I always ended up scary the bejesus out of myself.  No thank you.


nonmember avatar Amanda

I get my annual physical with my family doctor and at that time get my presciption for an entire year. I normally get 3 months of pills at a time, but if I was going away, I could ask for more. I could probably get the full 12 months if I wanted....but I live in Canada.

I don't agree that they should be OTC. I had to try 2 different kinds before my blood pressure was OK. Also, there are many side effects others have mentioned and having a doctor go over them with you so you are aware of the risks is important.

nonmember avatar ashleyj

Let's all be denied OTC birth control so poor little zandhmom doesn't "scare the bejeesus out of herself." Just because you're too daft to handle it doesn't mean the rest of us can't!

gem09... gem092011

jec7259---you say that "Most of these moms have no insurance, thus no means of getting birth control."

You really think that these people can't come up with the $3.00 for a package of 12 condoms (about $6.00 for a package, so I'm splitting the cost with their partner) if they really wanted to???? For $3.00 a month they can have protected sex every 2.5 days. If they can't afford that, maybe they better focus on other priorities before focusing on having sex. (I'm being flippant, but my point stands.)

You act like birth control pills are the only method of safe sex. News flash. They're not.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

Birth control is sold OTC. It's called condoms!

purvi... purvislets

As a woman who has suffered a mini stroke followed by a year of blood thinners, TEE's, neuroligists, cardiologists, and numerous other medical check ups all caused by birth control pills, I would have to say absolutely not.  Anyone taking this type of medication needs to be under the care and observation of a doctor which is why it is a prescription medication.

nonmember avatar Nicole

The united states medical system is ridiculous! Best facilities and treatment you can get in the world but the way it is run is stupid! I live in Honduras, you can buy almost any medication over the counter, if you don't know what you need , go see a doctor, an appointment with a private doctor costs only about $25 and if you medicate yourself and harm yourself without a prescription YOU are responsible! You can't sue anyone for your own stupidity. There are warnings on the box that says it should be used only under doctors orders. People need to be allowed to take responsibility for themselves and not hold someone else accountable for their own mistakes.

amazz... amazzonia

It wold be the worst things for women's specially young ones, hormones are a serious thing, you can die on the pill! A doctor should do all kind of tests before starting a hormonal birth control, if you don't want to take the time to go to a doctor, just use a condom!

Lori Treasure

Kiri: I don't usually agree with you, but here, you are spot-on. There are risks with EVERYTHING. Jeez. Do your homework, decide what is best for you, put in your body whatever you'd like for whatever reason you'd like. YOU OWN YOUR BODY--or you SHOULD, anyway. Nobody should be able to make your decisions for you or deny you the right to do with your own self what you will...not even if they think it's not good for you. NOBODY ELSE IS THE BOSS OF  YOU. I do NOT get why so many people in this country think it is fine and dandy for them to police everyone else's lives and choices. IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHAT I DO WITH MYSELF. Don't like it? Tough! I don't tell you what you can and can't do with your body. Butt out of my life.

nonmember avatar Littlefrogs

Tylenol can cause liver damage. Every OTC medicine has side effects and yet we still sell them OTC.

What are the side effects of an unwanted pregnancy?

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