Dear Colleague Letter: Making Birth Control Otc Essay

Submitted By jpm299
Words: 1199
Pages: 5

Joseph Murdy
Art of Rhetoric – Assignment 3
April 3, 2013

Dear Colleagues: Last year, the HHS mandated birth control coverage in employer-sponsored health insurance plans for the purpose of making birth control more accessible. However, currently birth control is sold via prescription, requiring a doctor’s visit. If the end goal is accessibility, then simply covering birth control in insurance policies is an ineffective measure to ensure that every sexually active woman is protected from unplanned pregnancy; instead, we must make birth control available over-the-counter. This will not only make birth control more readily accessible but will also have other far-reaching benefits, such as reducing the cost of birth control and ensuring that every employer’s freedom of conscience is not violated. Each day, women must struggle to get birth control, and very often this struggle has resulted in several unplanned pregnancies. Research from the Guttmacher Institute, an organization founded to advance reproductive health, has shown that nearly half of women, before age 35, will have at least one unplanned pregnancy in part because of this barrier to accessible birth control (Schwartzapfel, 2009). As the rates of unplanned pregnancies rise, the enormous healthcare costs associated with childbirth rise as well. Therefore, we must find a way to make birth control more accessible to women by making it available over-the-counter. Of course, making birth control an over-the-counter drug would require that its use and that the proposal itself would not negatively impact the health of the women taking birth control. The fact is birth control is heavily studied, and research has proven that its use is far safer than some drugs that are presently available over the counter. ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have reinforced this fact numerous times. In the abstract of a publication supporting the use of over-the-counter birth control, they wrote:
Intended pregnancy remains a major public health problem in the United States. Access and cost issues are common reasons why women either do not use contraception or have gaps in use. A potential way to improve contraceptive access and use, and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates, is to allow over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives (OCs). Screening for cervical cancer or sexually transmitted infections is not medically required to provide hormonal contraception. Concerns include payment for pharmacist services, payment for over-the-counter OCs by insurers, and the possibility of pharmacists inappropriately refusing to provide OCs. Weighing the risks versus the benefits based on currently available data, OCs should be available over-the-counter. Women should self-screen for most contraindications to OCs using checklists. (ACOG, 2012)

This paper reflects the opinion of many professionals in the field of gynecology, and they have all shared the belief that requiring a prescription for birth control is both unnecessary and poses a barrier to pregnancy protection. Many additional studies have also been conducted, further reinforcing the fact that birth control use is safe and the distribution of birth control over-the-counter is an effective means of combating unplanned pregnancies (Quee, 2006). Why then must we let inconvenient contraception result in numerous unplanned pregnancies when we can easily and safely prevent unplanned pregnancies by making birth control available over the counter? There are indeed other benefits of making birth control available over-the-counter, however. Currently, since birth control requires a prescription, the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these pills are protected from competition. This lack of competition can only drive up costs, while giving little incentive for further improving upon their formula. This competition in the free marketplace will only further guarantee that women, who require birth