In a rather controversial move, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is endorsing the over-the-counter sale of oral contraceptives:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a call Tuesday for birth control pills to be sold over the counter. Currently oral contraceptives are available only with a doctor’s prescription.
In a policy statement, the organization argues that making birth control pills easier to get will translate into fewer unwanted pregnancies. These unplanned pregnancies remain a major problem in the United States, they write, accounting for approximately 50% of all pregnancies. And such pregnancies, they argue, do not just interrupt lives — they also cost a fortune, with a price tag of approximately $11.1 billion per year, according to an analysis published in the academic journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
One argument commonly used to argue against making hormonal contraceptives like the pill available over the counter is that they can harm patients if they are not properly screened for contraindications. But the obstetricians and gynecologists point to several studies showing that individuals can successfully screen for such potential problems — and that pharmacists, rather than physicians, can also successfully fill that role.
According to ACOG, physician consultations and prescriptions are unnecessary barriers to women who want access to birth control pills. Women are certainly more than capable of reading warning labels on medications and assessing basic risks, but is it wise to make pills that have potentially profound hormonal effects readily available? Many women believe it is and are rejoicing at the prospect of purchasing their Seasonique as easily as Snickers bars:
Birth control should be available over the counter according to new medical guidelines, RT if you agree http://t.co/lMyuu8Rb
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) November 21, 2012
OB/GYNs say birth control should be available over the counter. As this is an economic issue for women, we agree. http://t.co/E44Uix14
— PP Votes NW & Hawaii (@PPVNH) November 21, 2012
— URGE (@URGE_org) November 21, 2012
— TAG (@GOTAGPPSE) November 21, 2012
seriously. why is birth control not available over the counter? stupid prescription for something seemingly so safe and beneficial.
— Michelle here (@ME_here) November 21, 2012
— Tracy Miller (@MillerTracyL) November 21, 2012
— Maggie (@Simply_MagPie) November 21, 2012
Love ACOG'S position on this! Birth control should be available without prescription. http://t.co/6rVowKF9
— Lynne Durham (@RH_LynneDurham) November 21, 2012
— Dr. Meadow Maze Good (@MeadowGood) November 21, 2012
Not so fast. Many other women believe ACOG’s position is highly irresponsible:
They are trying to make birth control an over the counter drug…NOT FOR THAT AT ALL!!
— Hilary Banks (@boujeeMUCH) November 21, 2012
@KevinKonquers 1. Increase number of STDs 2. Promoting sex for the youth 3. BC pills require doctor visits because various side effects
— Hilary Banks (@boujeeMUCH) November 21, 2012
— Candi Goldman (@Candi82470) November 21, 2012
The push begins to make birth control pills available over the counter. What a mess. Will tne Bishops speak out about this?
— Cindy Willmot (@MotherintheVale) November 21, 2012
Unbelievable, who are these Ob's? OB/GYNs back over-the-counter birth control pills: Associated Press http://t.co/ztrFvmK8
— Rhonda Koenig (@Rhondako) November 21, 2012
The fact of who someone is doesn't always make what he says right. Like these doctors. One hundred percent wrong: http://t.co/4XeZ3ofE
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) November 21, 2012
@thinkprogress While I am all for access to birth control via doc, over the counter could be dangerous given side effects, blood clots, etc.
— Shanna Francis (@Iamchaosangel) November 21, 2012
It is worth noting that a conservative/libertarian case can be made for giving adult women over-the-counter access to the pill:
Birth-control pills can have side effects, of course, but so can such over-the-counter drugs as antihistamines, ibuprofen or the Aleve that once turned me into a scary, hive-covered monster. That’s why even the most common over-the-counter drugs, including aspirin, carry warning labels. Most women aren’t at risk from oral contraceptives, however, just as most patients aren’t at risk from aspirin or Benadryl, and studies suggest that a patient checklist can catch most potential problems.
To further increase safety, over-the-counter sales could start with a progestin-only formulation, sometimes called the “minipill,” rather than the more-common combinations of progestin and estrogen. (Although we casually refer to “The Pill,” oral contraceptives actually come in about 100 formulations.)
Progestin-only pills, or POPs, have fewer contraindications. Unlike combination pills, they’re OK for women with hypertension, for instance, or smokers over the age of 35. The main dangers are fairly rare conditions such as breast cancer or current liver disease. “Not only are POP contraindications rare, but women appear to be able to accurately identify them using a simple checklist without the aid of a clinician,” declares an article forthcoming in the journal Contraception.
Women should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their input into their personal health care, and, unlike the Sandra Flukes on the Left, conservatives believe that women are capable of using their lady smarts when it comes to sexual health decisions.
This woman raises a great point:
Oh the irony: OBGYNs endorse over-the-counter birth control http://t.co/detp0WKu (y'all would get as much as you want but you'd have to pay)
— Debbie (@mosesmosesmoses) November 21, 2012
if birth control pills become available over the counter, they’ll no longer be free! ACOG believes that, should the pill be sold over the counter, a provision covering the sale should be added to Obamacare. For a group that claims to believe women are smart and independent enough to make health decisions, they sure do want Julia to stay under Big Government’s thumb.