Sept. 26 is World Contraception Day. Its purpose is to educate people about the importance of family planning and access to contraception. Despite the Republicans’ repeated attempts to block women’s access to any kind of reproductive justice, having access to contraception remains a vital part of women’s equality—one that is essential for our health and well-being, and that of our families.
But in 2017, it is still incredibly difficult to get birth control pills in the United States. Though over-the -counter birth control is available around the world, women here are required to see a doctor in order to get a prescription.
There are 102 countries in the world where you can buy birth control pills without seeing your doctor, but the United States isn’t one of them.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has endorsed the idea of true access to over-the-counter birth control since 2012 and 76 percent of doctors and 70 percent of other health care providers have said that people should have over-the-counter access.
It’s mind-boggling that in a country as wealthy and resource plentiful as this one, the powers-that-be refuse to figure out how to do this yet. Birth control pills have been around for nearly six decades and we know a lot about them. The medical field has overwhelmingly already agreed that this would be a safe thing to do. And not only is the pill safe but for some women, it may be the only way that they can get reliable contraception. For those who work and don’t have flexible schedules, have child care responsibilities, or live in rural areas where clinics may not be easily accessible or transportation not readily available, getting to a doctor and then a pharmacy to pick up a monthly prescription poses a challenge.
“Our rural health care is affected by health care provider shortages and patients are facing three to six months wait time for any primary care and even longer for speciality care,” [Denicia Cadena, of Young Women United based in New Mexico, said.] “Eleven of the state’s 33 counties have no OB-GYN … These barriers to contraception disproportionately affect people living in rural communities, low income people, and indigenous people.”
Let there be no doubt that women’s health is extremely political. In this age of technology where we have services that allow you to do car-sharing without actual car keys, and others that deliver groceries, alcohol, and clothes to your door, there just isn’t the political will to get FDA approval of over-the-counter birth control.
This is by no means a new thing.