Over-The-Counter Birth Control Is Not That Simple
Health and Wellness

Over-The-Counter Birth Control Is Not That Simple

Accessibility, safety, and cost are all important considerations.


Following a tweet by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) advocating for birth control (pills) to be available over-the-counter, Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX) voiced his agreement and offered himself as an unlikely ally in this endeavor. There has been support for over-the-counter birth control across the aisle in recent years, though for different reasons.

Access to birth control has been an important issue, especially for Democrats, in regards to the parameters of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has long been a source of contention between Republicans and Democrats and the mandate for employer-based healthcare that provides birth control with no copay is an especially contentious one. If birth control were to become over-the-counter, insurance companies could opt to no longer cover it, which would please many conservatives against that mandate in the ACA because the requirement could conflict with employer's religious views. It seems legislation in favor of over-the-counter birth control is a win for Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

There is a concern the price of birth control will increase if made available over-the-counter. Many who currently receive birth control at little to no charge (due to insurance premiums), would have to pay considerably more for their medication. The accessibility factor will then be an issue again because if it is not affordable, it is not accessible. While only the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to make birth control over-the-counter, AOC, Rep. Ayanna Presley (D-MA), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Affordability is Access Act. This act would ensure that birth control remains covered by insurance if the FDA were to take action and prevent prices from skyrocketing as a result at a time where reproductive rights are under fire.

If birth control were to become over-the-counter, insurance companies could opt to no longer cover it, which would please many conservatives against that mandate in the ACA because the requirement could conflict with employer's religious views. However, as a result, many who currently receive birth control at little to no charge (due to insurance premiums), would have to pay considerably more for their medication.

Beyond the cost implications of approving over-the-counter birth control are the health and safety concerns. A visit to the doctor is currently required to obtain a prescription for birth control, even pills because there are many varieties and doctors choose the kind best suited for their patient. Family medical history and other health factors play a considerable role in determining which prescription to prescribe to their patient, which is why many believe there still needs to be interaction with a doctor.

There are many potential side effects of birth control, ranging from worsening cramps and weight gain to blood clots and dramatic hormone imbalances. While some of the potential side effects can be life-threatening, gynecologists argue that birth control pills are safer than many medications that are already over-the-counter, such as Advil or Tylenol, given the potential effects of their misuse.

Several states have already begun to consider bills that would allow a pharmacist to prescribe birth control pills, eliminating the need for a doctor's visit. However, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) believe this action simply replaces one barrier with another. The ACOG believes that birth control is safe enough to be over-the-counter and that research suggests women are "adept at self-screening" for potential risks for this common drug. Women would then be allowed to compare products for the best value for themselves, just as in any other market. Admittedly, there is legitimate concern about the safety issue of allowing women to choose their birth control, however, the ACOG explains that the same risks (particularly blood clots that can result in heart attacks, etc.) are exponentially higher if a woman were to be pregnant.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

These 11 Face Masks On Etsy Support Small Businesses While Fighting The Spread Of Coronavirus

We're staying safe as states start lifting lockdown guidelines.

I, like most people who have had the luxury of being able to stay at home during this time, haven't spent much time outdoors at all. But when I do brave the great outdoors for a walk or to get to the grocery store, you won't find me without a mask.

My family and I were lucky enough to have family friends who were sewing some and had extras to give to us, but most of my friends and loved ones outside my immediate family have had to order some (or make a makeshift one out of scarves or bandanas).

Keep Reading... Show less

13 Reasons We're Using Quarantine As The Ultimate Excuse For Online Shopping This Month

The one thing we haven't distanced from is our bank account.

Throughout quarantine, I've been FaceTiming most of my friends in a full turtleneck or the go-to cozy sweater I keep wrapped around the chair in my room. Either way, I always have tea in my hands to keep myself warm — till this past week.

For most of the country who hasn't had the luck of quarantining in 90-degree weather on their family's lake house or with a backyard pool, things began to change this month. Our favorite shows came out with summer seasons, the sun came out, and we started spending more time outside.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Morgan Wooten To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

Morgan Wooten

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less

If you are a normal person who spends most of their time streaming TV shows, you'll know that "Friends" was taken off Netflix early in 2020. Given that a global pandemic followed shortly after, many diehard fans of the show stuck in quarantine have been experiencing significant Central Perk withdrawal.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

How To Interview A Class Of 2020 Graduate

What they've been through is truly unprecedented.


No matter how you want to spin it, the Class of 2020 will be the first class graduating amidst a global pandemic.

Keep Reading... Show less

By now, it is safe to declare "Outer Banks" on Netflix as THE TV Show of quarantine.

"Tiger King" got out to an early lead, but since, the Pogues and the Kooks have owned pop culture conversations while everyone has been couped up this spring amidst a global pandemic. And if you are one of the very few people out there in the world that has not heard about "Outer Banks" and or haven't binged it yet, well...

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Spoke To A California ER Doctor About COVID-19, And Y'all, Our Healthcare Workers Know What's Up

In light of what's going on in the world, it's time to get some front-line perspective.

It seems like the only thing I do these days is scroll through social media in a desperate attempt to gain information. My phone has called me out on my screen time more than once, and I just continue to ignore it. You're probably in the same boat — stuck at home, scrolling deeper and deeper into a hole of conspiracy theories and possible "back to normalcy" dates, hungry for information.

While we know that the news is not our mental health's friend these days, getting reliable information is helpful and necessary.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments