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Feeding Frenzy: Birth Control and the Counter

    By Alyssa Acob . November 19, 2019 - 11:00 am

Photo by Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash

Imagine browsing down the aisles at your local drug store. Glancing through the health section, you notice a display of birth control pills easily accessible for purchase. How would you feel about that? In order to have birth control pills, a prescription from a doctor is usually needed. However, in the past couple years, the debate about these pills should be sold over-the-counter (OTC) has been gaining greater awareness. I do not agree with this oral contraceptive being sold without prescription in drug store aisles. 

According to, “proponents say making the birth control pill available [OTC] would lower teen pregnancy rates, provide contraceptive access to medically underserved women, and ease access to a health-improving drug with decades of safe use.” As for the opponent’s standpoint, “making the Pill [OTC] would raise [the] cost of contraception for women, pose a danger to teens’ and women’s health by removing the doctor’s visit requirement, and limit what options are made available.” 

Looking over the proponent’s standpoints, the first reason mentioned is having the pill available OTC “would lower teen pregnancy rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, the birth rate of babies born to women aged 15-19 years dropped 7% from 2016. Teen pregnancy rates are already dropping without having the pill OTC. As for medically underserved women or teens who don’t feel comfortable telling their parents, there are other resources like Planned Parenthood and women’s health clinics that offer birth control without insurance and under confidentiality. Although the pill is known to be “health-improving with decades of safe use,” seeking and getting professional guidance and consent to use it is of utmost importance for health in general. 

From the opponent’s standpoint, having the pill accessible OTC would increase the cost of contraception for women since competition for that market would grow rapidly and the production of the pill would also increase. Not having birth control pills easily accessible makes insurance companies, organizations like Planned Parenthood, and other women clinics more lenient to those in need of birth control. Not needing a prescription also removes the required doctor’s visit which could pose a threat to teens’ and women’s health. What happens if the pill is not suitable for them, produces an allergic reaction, or can cause health complications in the future. A doctor or licensed professional is needed to evaluate and go over these risks with those taking any kind of contraceptive. Not all teens’ and women’ bodies are the same, so why should there be an OTC birth control pill that assumes so. 

Birth control pills should not be taken lightly as with this debate. Any type of drug store medication has its own risks, but these kinds of pills aren’t like the go-to Tylenol and Advil to make a simple headache go away. These pills deal with hormones and essentially the reproduction of life. Any medication that alters with that should be handled by a professional. 

When it all comes down to it, the most effective way to prevent pregnancy is to be educated about it. Without a doctor’s visit and prescription for birth control pills, that education aspect is cut out and teens and women are left taking it without the proper information. There are already so many resources out there for birth control without having it be OTC, yet people just want the “easy-way” in getting it, not realizing the consequences and lack of education.