Birth control has been a hotly contested topic this year. The UN recently declared that access to birth control is a human right; the election pitted pro-choice political candidates against pro-life ones. Even PolicyMic’ers have definitely boasted their opinions on birth control. (Just look at the comments!)
Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggested that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter, without prescriptions. A lot of their factors seem to be quite convincing, and selling birth control over-the-counter appears to be a positive thing, especially when it comes to preventing teen pregnancy.
Any type of birth control is not very cheap. Oral contraceptives can cost upwards near $60 and other methods may cost even more. When it comes to using contraceptives correctly and consistently, costs continue to be a central concern for women. Many women skip birth control methods because of the costs.
Over-the-counter (OTC) birth control would provide numerous benefits to women. It would provide more ability for women to have access to birth control. People would have less unwanted pregnancies. It decreases the likelihood of abortions, making both pro-lifers and pro-choicers happy. It would not require the government to pay for birth control, because OTC medicine usually comes out of pocket. OTC birth control would be extremely convenient. If at local drugstores, low-income women and men would have greater ability to receive birth control. It’s easier for people to go to a drugstore or a Wal-Mart rather than to the doctors, and OTC birth control would thus decrease doctors' visits.
One of the main concerns about over-the-counter (OTC) medicine would be the potential higher price of contraceptives. Lilly O'Donnell raises an excellent point that OTC birth control prices would be higher without insurance coverage, which makes access a moot point, since OTC contraceptives are supposed to increase women's ability to access birth control.
Fortunately, OTC medicines are generally prices much lower than their prescription counterparts. A 2005 study compared an OTC medicine being $7, the name brand prescription being $98 and off-brand prescription $28. The price of birth control would depend on how the pharmaceutical companies determined whether or not to lower prices, but if they did, think how much money could be saved.
Sill, pharmaceutical companies might not want to make contraceptives available over the counter due to fears of financial loss. But sales of Claritin and Zyrtek, common antihistamines which were once prescription medications and are now OTC, have actually increased since becoming over-the-counter.
There is also a possibility that people could misuse birth control if it were over the counter, but but when it comes to birth control, the fear of unwanted pregnancies would likely compel correct usage. As with any medicine, there would have to be close monitoring of use and warning labels should be marked clearly.If pharmaceutical companies ensured that birth control was affordable, we would not be seeing horrible situations such as Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant.