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Over-the-Counter Birth Control: Yay or Nay?--Editorial

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After the emergency contraceptive Plan B became available over the counter last year, the question of whether or not birth control should also make the leap has been lingering in the news, on blogs and in our neighborhoods. I'm saturated in readings about why the pill should continue to be a prescription drug, but nothing seems to justify the argument. Below I've listed the top reasons people seem to be against over the counter oral contraceptives - and why these reasons aren't enough to change my mind.

1. Money, money, money. While many insurance companies cover the cost of contraception, and medicine often increases in price when it goes from prescription to OTC, it will become unaffordable for too many people to make the switch.

Bogus. First off, birth control is already pretty expensive, and if you're lucky enough to have your insurance cover the pill, you'll hopefully continue to be lucky to have it covered over the counter. The accessibility that an OTC pill would provide outweighs the possible price increase. Besides, this is an issue of affordable and comprehensive health care, NOT an issue of barring accessibility for birth control in exchange for quasi-affordability.

2. Women will stop going to the doctor. Women will no longer have motivation to get Pap smears or regular check ups at the OB/GYN, because they can get the pill over the counter.

This is a valid concern, but not one that leads me to believe that OTC birth control is a mistake. This, again, is a question of health care and education, not a question of killing accessibility to contraception. Women need to be taught and encouraged to have regular check ups at the doctor, to get Pap smears according to nationally recommended guidelines, and to do those things because it's how to take care of yourself, not because it's how you get your hands on the pill. I'm also curious to find out how many numbers this will really effect - do the majority of women using the pill have a regular regimen of visiting the doctor? And what about uninsured women? The goal of making the pill accessible to as many women as possible still trumps other issues here.

3. It's pretty easy to get, right?

My instinctive reaction to this type of question is, "Wrong." My second reaction is - it may be easy, but shouldn't it be easier? Low-income women, often in communities of color, may find it difficult to obtain the pill without reliable transportation or insurance. Making sure young people in particular are more likely to use the pill if they have access to it at their local Walgreens, is an important step, not only in curbing the rate of teen pregnancy, but for NORMALIZING sexual health and sex in our country. Making the pill accessible makes conversations around sex and women's sexual health less taboo and more part of the mainstream. And that is a good thing for everybody.

As always, I leave it to you. Am I being too idealistic? Will the OTC pill be a detriment to us all? Leave your comments.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.