The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now supports birth control pills being sold over-the-counter. What could our health care system look like if doctors were less involved as gatekeepers to access to contraception?
For the past two years, the Etter Health Center at Shippensburg University, a small-town Pennsylvania school, has provided access to a vending machine that dispenses Plan B One-Step® (among other health products) to students at a cost of $25. While politicians and political elites continue to get their knickers in a twist over contraception, it is heartening to see some public health experts who just get it.
Experts, who we count on for guidance and sound evidence-based medicine, have repeatedly shown Plan B to be not only extremely effective, but incredibly safe. Although the experts in the FDA agreed with the well-researched and well-presented data on Plan B, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama chose to ignore their expertise and base their decision on politics, not science.
“Dr.” Kathleen Sebelius prescribed us a bitter pill when she ignored overwhelming evidence on the safety and effectiveness of emergency contraception to prohibit its sale over-the-counter. Is this change we can believe in? It’s certainly not a “common sense” solution. President Obama and Secretary Sebelius should listen to real doctors and the FDA Commissioner, and make this decision based on science, not politics.
In what can only be called an astounding move, today Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overruled a much-awaited decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter (OTC) to women of all ages. No HHS Secretary has ever before overruled an FDA decision, according to the New York Times.
After carefully considering her situation and making a personal decision, a young woman heads to her local pharmacy. Unfortunately for this young woman, politics and an unwarranted age restriction have followed her to the counter and will deny her access to the emergency contraceptive she needs.
Providing women with accurate information about the benefits AND risks of various contraceptive methods is an important way to empower women to make their own reproductive health choices.
Should the pill be sold over-the-counter? While prominent advocates have argued for removing barriers to access like doctor’s visits and prescriptions, it may not be as good an idea as it once seemed.
Women in most parts of Canada will soon be able to access emergency contraception over-the-counter. But the lack of centralized health care policy means women in Quebec will still need to consult pharmacists first.