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Why is Over the Counter Birth Control Important? Everything You Need to Know



Woman in doctors office. Box of Opill Over the Counter Birth Control


Key Takeaways

  • On July 13, 2023, the FDA approved a new birth control pill called Opill that you can buy without a prescription.

  • Opill can help people who have trouble getting birth control because of issues like cost, transportation, or location.

  • This pill can be especially helpful for those living in areas without easy access to a health center that offers birth control options.


The Importance of Over the Counter Birth Control


On July 13, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) approved the sale of the first over-the-counter birth control pill, Opill.


This approval is a huge milestone pioneered by the efforts of reproductive justice organizations, such as SisterLove, across the nation. Access to over-the-counter birth control presents the opportunity to break down substantial barriers to reproductive freedoms, especially for low-income women of color.


Opill would require no prescription and will be available to purchase at drug stores, grocery stores, and even online.

Opill, first approved in 1973 as a prescription, will be the first over-the-counter birth control in the United States. However, the United States lags behind over 100 countries that offer over-the-counter birth control. This comes as no surprise, especially during continued legal battles over reproductive rights and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Opill provides renewed reproductive freedom and could shift the conversation around contraceptive access.



Addressing Barriers to Contraceptive Access with Opill


The F.D.A. approval of Opill is especially significant since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson.


The Dobbs Court removed federal protections for abortion access throughout the nation. The Dobbs decision has started further political conversation and action surrounding reproductive access, including contraceptive access, sexual education, and abortion timelines. States like Georgia, with a majority Republican legislature, have instituted six-week abortion bans. These bans criminalize mothers and medical professionals who seek out and perform abortions. Similarly, Utah's House Bill 363 requires abstinence-only sex education that bans any mention of same-sex relationships, contraceptives, or sexually transmitted diseases.


Amid dangerous age bans and continuing misinformation, Opill will return a sliver of reproductive access and restore individual power to choose the best path for their future.


Studies support that one-third of adult women report experiencing barriers when seeking contraceptive care. These barriers include financial concerns, lack of transportation, living in rural areas or contraceptive deserts, and much more. A considerable hurdle is getting a prescription to obtain birth control. Additionally, birth control can be expensive for individuals who do not have insurance or do not qualify for government programs like Medicaid.



Eradicating Contraceptive Deserts: A Step Towards Reproductive Freedom


Opill would require no prescription and will be available to purchase at drug stores, grocery stores, and even online. While the price range and insurance coverage still have not been decided, there has been a significant push to make Opill as financially accessible as possible. Opill will completely shift how contraceptives are available and open significant doors for contraceptive access across the nation.


The removal of these hurdles is especially important when considering individuals who live in contraceptive deserts.


A contraceptive desert is an area where the number of health centers offering a full range of birth control methods is not enough to meet the needs of the area’s number of individuals eligible for publicly funded contraception. Contraceptive deserts are most common in rural areas and affect almost 20 million individuals across the nation. Individuals who live in contraceptive deserts often must take considerable measures—taking time off work, finding a babysitter, traveling far—to find their preferred method of birth control. Because Opill is over-the-counter and accessible online it could eliminate the need for individuals in contraceptive desserts to make such far journeys to access their preferred birth control method.


Opill and its purpose are incredibly important during a time when reproductive rights are under attack.


This approval allows individuals to have power over their reproductive future. We believe that every individual should be able to determine what reproductive and sexual choices are right for them and their future—having equitable access to safe and effective birth control is a major part of that.


We believe in accessible and affordable contraceptive care. These decisions shouldn’t be hindered by financial burdens, transportation, or living in a rural area. For more information on SisterLove’s stance on reproductive care and contraceptive access please visit our website at www.sisterlove.org.


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