Family Planning

04.21.13

Should Birth Controll Pills Be Available Over-The-Counter?

Experts expect pushback from conservatives, gynecologists.

The fight to make the morning-after pill available to women of all ages without a prescription was a protracted, polarized affair. Now, over-the-counter birth control may be the next battle. In an op-ed in The New York Times, reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal makes the case for stocking the Pill on pharmacy shelves: research shows that birth control poses fewer dangers than OTC pain pills and decongestants; women often can't get to a doctor in time for a refill; the Pill has been thoroughly vetted for safety over the past quarter-century. But Rosenthal notes that birth control is unlikely to become the next Tylenol any time soon. Not only are political conservatives and abstinence advocates deeply opposed to the idea, but gynecologists themselves are divided over the prospect. Some fear it will cut back on the number of doctor visits and promote misuse; others point to data that shows women who had ready access to over-the-counter emergency contraception had higher rates of STDs.