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Over the Counter Birth Control

In: People

Submitted By Kyleeh72
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In the news analysis “Is It Time for Off-the-Shelf Birth-Control Pills?” Elisabeth Rosenthal wonders if the time is ripe for a new government approach to oral contraceptives.

When a federal judge recently ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after pill available to women of all ages without a prescription, the ruling was a political embarrassment for the Obama administration and unleashed protests from abortion foes and abstinence advocates. But that controversy may look like a tempest in a teapot compared with a broader and no less heated discussion that is roiling the medical community: should birth-control pills of any type require a doctor’s prescription? Or should they be available, like Tylenol, on pharmacy shelves?

Last December the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released an official position paper concluding that the time had come for birth-control pills to be sold over the counter. It was the first time the group had endorsed such sales, concluding that scientific evidence suggested that the practice was safe and calling it “a potential way to improve contraceptive access and use, and possibly decrease the unintended pregnancy rate.”

After all, oral contraceptives have been available in the United States for more than half a century, and few medicines have been so thoroughly vetted. Despite some catchy new brand names, the pills I took 25 years ago are essentially the same as those my daughter takes today. If anything, pills have become safer because they contain lower doses of estrogen.

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