Birth control pills are one step closer to being as easy to purchase as aspirin—and according to a Tuesday statement from the nation’s largest group of obstetricians and gynecologists, that’s how it should be.
But others, like Threesa Sadler, executive director of Raffa Clinic, a pro-life pregnancy resource center in Greenville, Texas, aren’t so sure.
Sadler, a licensed vocational nurse, said she saw this coming the moment “morning-after” pills became available over-the-counter, as the emergency contraceptive has a higher dose of estrogen and progestin than normal birth control pills, but that doesn’t eliminate her concern.
From a medical stance, Sadler is against the pill becoming so readily available because of the numerous health risks involved.
“It’s a hormone, and there are side effects with any hormone you take,” she said. “Couple that with little-to-no education on what the drug is or how it is used, and no physician to monitor the consumer.”
From a pro-life point of view, Sadler expressed concern over the pill being a possible abortifacient, so selling it over the counter could result in countless additional unknown abortions.
Plus such availability would allow men to buy birth control pills and coerce their girlfriends to get on the pill and enable young girls to buy and use the pill without parental knowledge, which would leave a child susceptible to a major blood clot or stroke, the most commonly-known risks of birth control, among other things.
Yet convenience seems to trump all concerns for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is pushing the move to over-the-counter availability.
Half of the nation’s pregnancies every year are unintended, a rate that hasn’t changed in 20 years—and easier access to birth control pills could help, said Dr. Kavita Nanda, an OB/GYN who coauthored the opinion for the doctors group.
“It’s unfortunate that in this country where we have all these contraceptive methods available, unintended pregnancy is still a major public health problem,” said Nanda, a scientist with the North Carolina nonprofit group FHI 360, formerly known as Family Health International.
Nanda added that many women have trouble affording a doctor’s visit, or getting an appointment in time when their pills are running low, which can lead to skipped doses.
If the pill didn’t require a prescription, women could “pick it up in the middle of the night if they run out,” she said. “It removes those types of barriers.”
Tuesday, the Federal Drug Administration said it was willing to meet with any company interested in making the pill nonprescription, to discuss what, if any, studies would be needed.