On April 30th, 2013, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington student organizers at the University of Washington, Students of Public Health Engaged in Reproductive Rights Efforts (SPHERE), held a forum on the possibilities and challenges associated with over-the-counter sale of birth control pills.
With the exception of emergency contraception, birth control is currently only available by prescription. In November of 2012, the American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a recommendation advocating for over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives, citing evidence that this would result in fewer unintended pregnancies. A recent poll found that two-thirds of women would support such a policy.
At the SPHERE event, panelist Megan Dowell, the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Group Health, discussed the logistical hurdles in developing and implementing federal rules to allow birth control sale without a doctor’s prescription.
Sara Ainsworth, a lecturer at UW’s School of Law, touched on the vast access issues for undocumented women when it comes to birth control.
Don Downing, a professor at UW’s School of Pharmacy, highlighted the critical and expanding role of pharmacists in assuring continuity of care should birth control be available over-the-counter.