Over-The-Counter Birth Control Is Totally Safe For Teenagers – So Why Isn’t It A Reality?

by Brianna Kirkham

It’s 2017, and we still can’t buy birth control without a prescription.

Almost half a decade ago, the top doctors in the U.S. released a statement promoting over-the-counter birth control pills, and now more evidence has been found to help back this argument up. Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows it’s completely safe for teenagers to take oral contraception. In fact, it’s even safer for teens to take the pill than adult women, because they have a lower risk of developing blood clots.

Of course, some still believe keeping accessible birth control away from adolescents will actually prevent them from having sex — which is hilarious. In reality, no evidence was found that suggests access to birth control encourages teens to engage in riskier or unsafe behavior. The study also found when teen contraceptive usage is high (thanks to the Affordable Care Act), teen pregnancy and abortion rates are low. Which, duh.

Krishna Upadhya, assistant professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, led the study and said when it comes to accessible birth control, the rewards definitely outweigh the risks.

‘These pills are safe and effective and we should reduce barriers to using them,” Upadhya said in an interview with NPR. “And teens should benefit just as adult women do.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have made statements stressing that while they do support making over-the-counter birth control pills available, it’s not a strong substitute for the ACA mandate requiring insurance providers to cover the cost of all contraceptives. Several bills have been introduced to require insurance companies to pay for non-prescription birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but none have made it out of committee. The FDA told NPR they ‘generally cannot confirm or deny the existence of a pending product application,’ so it’s not for-sure if manufacturers have pitched over-the-counter pills or not.

With the ACA’s future growing more uncertain everyday, safe and affordable birth control is more important than ever — especially for teens. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait another five years to make this a reality.

Photo via Flickr, renewleeds

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