Over-the-counter birth control pills are a sound idea
Ladies, interested in buying the birth control pill over the counter, just like condoms? It could be possible to do just that one day.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is the nation's most influential group of such specialists, has said it's safe to sell the pill like that. This is far from becoming a reality, but it's an interesting concept.
Women will reap a variety of benefits from an over-the-counter pill, but there are downsides, too.
On the plus side, women will no longer have to schedule an appointment with their doctor to get refills or new prescriptions, which saves both time and money — concepts that are precious to everyone.
On the downside, over-the-counter birth control pills would no longer be covered by health insurance plans. Instead, women would have to pay for costs out of pocket. A recent survey said that uninsured women pay about $16 a month for the pill — a cost that is reasonable to pay. A box of 36 condoms, on the other hand, ranges from $15 to $25, depending on where you purchase them. The costs are somewhat even.
However, the pill is a much more reliable form of birth control, resulting in 2-9 pregnancies per 100 women annually. The condom is less effective, with 15-24 pregnancies resulting per 100 women each year.
Considering that half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned each year, removing barriers to getting the pill — a more reliable form of birth control — makes sense.
And in the end, it all boils down to self-responsibility. A consumer needs to correctly use the birth control — regardless of type — to prevent pregnancies.
There are health issues to consider, too. There are warning labels with all medications, from aspirin to cough syrup to, yes, even birth control pills. Again, it's up to the consumers to make sure they are taking a medication that's appropriate for them.
There were no recommended guidelines for a minimum purchasing age for an over-the-counter birth control pill. However, the morning-after pill, which is designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, is currently available to anyone 17 and older without a prescription.
If the standard birth control pill does become easier to access, parents will need to have conversations with their children about it, to make sure their children can make informed decisions while keeping their values intact.
While over-the-counter purchases of birth control pills have a long process to follow, we feel it's time for the government to make this a reality.