In most countries in the world, women are able to access birth control without a prescription. However, today, women in the United States are unable to get birth control over-the-counter. But in two states this is about to change.
California and Oregon are two states that have passed laws to expand access to contraceptives. In both states, women will be able to get birth control directly from their pharmacists without a prescription from a doctor. The changes will go into effect this October in California and in Oregon, next January.
Below are six reasons why birth control should be more accessible in the United States.
1.) Health Benefits for Women
In 2011, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that 1.5 million women use birth control to help with medical issues such as ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and endometrial cancer. They also found that more than 58 percent of birth control users cite other medical issues in addition to preventing a pregnancy, such as reducing cramps or menstrual pain, preventing menstrual side effects, and treating acne.
2.) Better Care for Women and their Families
In a study by Jennifer Frost and Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute, it was found that women use birth control because it "allows them to better care for themselves and their families, complete their education and achieve economic security."
Earlier this week, I asked Rachelle Suissa, president of Brooklyn-Queens National Organization for Women (NOW) about the importance of birth control being more accessible. According to Suissa:
Birth control should be more accessible for women in the United States because increasing numbers of women in their 20s and early 30s are choosing to postpone marriage and motherhood in favor of pursuing academic, career and other related goals. Therefore, birth control is essential to their ability to achieve the work-life balance so that when they have completed their professional goals, they would be able to successfully focus on having a family. Having access to birth control is key to increasing the number of women on corporate boards, school boards, and in public office.
3.) It Reduces the Teen Birth Rate
Earlier this month, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that the state's teen birth rate dropped 40 percent between 2009 and 2013. This was in large part due to a program that provides contraception to low-income women.
4.) Access to Birth Control Can Help Decrease Abortion Rates
Lack of readily available contraception and sex education is one of the top reasons for abortions. Last year, a study by Washington University School of Medicine researchers showed that when barriers to contraceptive access are removed, teen pregnancy and abortion rates plummet.
5.) 70 Percent Favor Legalizing Over-the-Counter Birth Control
This is an issue which women across the political spectrum seem to agree with -- it should be available without a prescription. According to a Reason-Rupe poll, "70 percent of Americans favor legalizing over-the-counter birth control pills and patches without a doctor's prescription."
6.) It Saves Taxpayers Billions of Dollars
According to a study posted in the New England Journal of Medicine, "In 2010, births involving teenage mothers cost the United States nearly $10 billion in increased public assistance and health care and in income lost as a result of lower educational attainment and reduced earnings among children born to teenage mothers." By preventing pregnancies, taxpayers would save billions of dollars each year.