New Bill Offers Affordable Birth Control — Minus The Prescription

Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images.
Senator Patty Murray has a big idea: For contraception to truly be accessible, it needs to be more than just technically attainable — it needs to be affordable and easy to get. (Crazy, right?)

To that end, the Democratic senator from Washington is announcing a new bill Tuesday called the Affordability IS Access Act, which would make FDA-approved birth control available over the counter — and have insurance cover it.

"I believe strongly that women should be able to get the comprehensive health care they need without being charged extra, without having to ask permission, and without politicians interfering," the Senator said on a press call Tuesday.

Murray's bill is in response to a bill put forth last week by Republican Senators Gardner and Ayotte that would also offer OTC birth control — with a catch. The GOP bill doesn't mandate that insurance companies cover that OTC contraception, meaning that while it might be accessible, it'd also likely be expensive.

Senator Murray and others criticized the plan, saying it was a backhanded way of making contraception less available. Offering "access without affordability," Murray said, "is like offering somebody a single shoe. You need the pair."

The Affordable Care Act already requires that birth control is covered by all new insurance plans, and about 55 million women can get theirs with no copay because of it. (Which is great, since otherwise, Planned Parenthood estimates the pill costs around $600 a year.)

And, birth control is really safe. Mark DeFrancesco, MD, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says that, while no medication is entirely without risk, oral contraception is as safe or safer than lots of medication available at your neighborhood grocery store.

Making birth control more readily available could have a big impact on the number of unwanted pregnancies. Per a recent study cited in the bill's press release, oral contraception distributed OTC with no copay could reduce unintended pregnancies among low-income women by as much as 25%.

Plus, even with the current barriers in place, almost everyone uses it — literally. According to stats from the Guttmacher institute, over 99% of sexually active women aged 15 to 44 are currently on a form of contraception or have been at some point.

And, that's all the more reason to make sure women can afford it. "But anyone will tell you that if something is too expensive, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to get," Sen. Murray says.“It might as well be on the moon."

More from Body

Although he had been dead for decades, Jim Morrison said something a few years ago that shocked people. He wasn’t speaking from beyond the grave, but in ...
In April, I ran a story called “The Medium-Sized Woman Problem.” The “problem,” of course, was not the women themselves, but the way in which we frame ...
Jill Krause writes about all things mom, parenting, and relationships at her blog, Baby Rabies, and she has some words of advice for the non-pregnant ...
Pregnant women get a lot of advice about motherhood, even when they don't ask for it. And in the first episode of Expecting, from Refinery29's comedy ...
Let me introduce you all to the love of my life, Sienna Harper Gernon! I've never felt love like it! @justchrisgernon thank you so much, you have been...
Ragazzi mi state seguendo in tanti e vorrei ringraziarvi e scusarmi se non riesco a rispondere a tutti...vi proprio ho una foto che mi ricorda tutte ...
Update: Kopp's original Facebook post has been removed, and, as Shape reports, the chances of contracting an infection so severe that draining is ...
(Paid Content) Stress sweat is different from regular sweat in that it feeds off bacteria and causes odor. Then you start to think about it — producing ...
Breast-feeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but it doesn't always come as naturally as we might assume. And, as one viral photo shows, ...
Last week, Kelly Stanley was breast-feeding her 9-month-old baby during dinner when someone else at her table decided to grab a cloth napkin and try to ...
Periods may be annoying, but at least they're predictable — sort of. If yours is a little delayed this cycle, and you're not trying to get pregnant right ...
It sustains life. It boosts immunity. It may or may not taste like the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms. (Full disclosure: I sampled mine just ...
Gina Rodriguez is the master of keeping it real. She's been open about everything from losing her virginity to coping with thyroid disease, so it makes ...
When you see your friend's adorable baby, your first instinct, understandably, is probably to hug and kiss her all over. However, you might want to think ...