Birth Control Apps Make Life Easier, But Women Shouldn’t Even Need Them

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A blister-pack of birth control pills. Plenty of people think all forms of birth control medications should be available over the counter. For a while, that included President Trump. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Ordering birth control or the morning-after pill through a smartphone app has been available for a while. Recently, however, they’ve drawn the ire of pro-life organizations. As STAT News reported, some states may soon be re-evaluating telemedicine laws that allow some companies like Nurx, Lemonaid and PRJKT Ruby to operate. Doctors associated with these apps review a person’s medical history and write prescriptions without requiring an in-office visit.

However, no person in the U.S. actually needs a prescription for emergency contraception, as long as they can afford it. Since June 2013, Plan B has been available over the counter. But without a prescription, some insurers won’t cover the morning-after pill, which can cost between $30 and $50, though prices vary.

As STAT noted, some pro-life groups argue that emergency contraception acts like RU486, a pill that can induce an abortion. However, that’s not how emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B or Ella work. They may prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg in the first place, which is basically how normal birth control works. 

So why aren’t normal birth control pills available over the counter too? Some people think they should be. That includes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has officially endorsed the idea.

“A potential way to improve contraceptive access and use, and possibly decrease the unintended pregnancy rate, is to allow over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives,” the organization stated in a 2012 document. 

In lieu of making the pills available over the counter, some states have found other ways to cut a doctor’s visit out of the process. Several states, including Oregon, California and Colorado, now allow pharmacists to write prescriptions for birth control. 

Another one-time, notable supporter of making birth control available over the counter: President Trump. He once expressed his support for eliminating the prescription requirement for birth control. Of course, his administration hasn’t taken the same approach. A White House memo allegedly endorsed the ineffective “rhythm” method of birth control, and the Republican Party’s platform specifically criticized the availability of “powerful contraceptives” over the counter. 

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