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Technology & Innovation

The Case for Over-the-Counter Birth Control

Based on medical standards alone, female birth control should be made available over the counter, says author Virginia Postrel. Not to mention reducing American political invective. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Political invective aside, making female birth control available over the counter makes good medical sense. According to the American Journal of Public Health, the birth control pill is better understood than any other drug in human history and no medical diagnosis is necessary. Women asses their own risk of pregnancy, just as men decide whether to buy condoms. Besides noting their limited side effects, health care advocates say that requiring a prescription acts more as ‘a barrier to access rather than providing medically necessary supervision’.

What’s the Big Idea?

Author Virginia Postrel says extortion is the main reason why female birth control continues to require a doctor’s prescription. “That demand may suit doctors’ paternalist instincts and financial interests, but it doesn’t serve patients’ needs,” she says. Getting over-the-counter approval would require a pharmaceutical company to put forward about $10 million for new medical studies. Studies show that women who already get the pill over-the-counter (in Mexico) are more likely to continue taking it regularly than those who have to make a doctor’s appointment. 

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