AllahPundit at HotAir.com poses this as a political question: Should the GOP support over-the-counter sales of birth control pills?
I’d like to ask the same of pro-lifers. Be sure to take the poll at the bottom of this post.
To boil AllahPundit’s thoughts down, now that the Supreme Court has ruled closely held for-profit corporations do not have to pay for abortion-causing contraceptives, the Obama administration could force insurance companies to provide them “free” (spread the cost among all insurance payees) or force taxpayers to foot the bill (actually, more of the bill we already foot through so-called “family planning” funding).
So why not just make contraceptive pills available over-the-counter, i.e., without a prescription? If the much higher dosed morning-after pills are now available OTC, why not “morning-before” pills? This would simply alleviate the HHS Mandate mess.
Policy reasons to support OTC contraceptives
Ben Domenech at The Federalist thinks such a move would be good policy:
There are a number of objections to this, but I find them to largely amount to unconvincing paternalism. The chief argument advanced is that standard oral contraceptives mess with hormones and have all sorts of side effects. This is, of course, true! But: dangerous side effects are rampant within all sorts of other over the counter drugs. Women can think for themselves and make decisions with their doctor and pharmacist about what drugs they want to take….
It’s obvious why libertarians like the idea of OTC birth control. Conservatives should like it because it removes the responsibility for redistributive payment from themselves while demonstrating that yes, they really aren’t about banning things or preventing access to birth control. And liberals should like it because it will lower the drop-out rate, which is currently largely driven by the requirement to re-up the prescription as much as every few months. The American College of OB-GYNs supports it….
Political reasons to support OTC contraceptives
Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner thinks the move would be politically savvy on the part of Republicans:
It would make it a lot more difficult for Democrats to portray the GOP as being only interested in obstructing Democrats rather than supporting their own ideas, and harder to accuse Republicans of being broadly against access to birth control…
If Democrats oppose the move, they’ll have to explain why they want to force women to go through their doctors to obtain birth control and make it harder for uninsured women to gain access.
Moral reasons to oppose OTC contraceptives
The major con against approving of OTC hormonal contraception from a pro-life perspective is it might be to tacitly endorse wider distribution of abortion drugs.
A con from a pro-woman perspective would be that making birth control pills available without seeing a doctor decreases the likelihood girls and women will get proper screening before taking hormonal contraceptives, which are contraindicated for a variety of reasons. Such a move would also decrease the likelihood of proper preventative care, such as PAP smears and breast exams.
Cons from a pro-family perspective would be that wider availability of contraceptives might increase sexual promiscuity as well as aid and abet sexual perpetrators.
The Planned Parenthood factor
Seems to me making hormonal contraceptives available OTC would severely cut into its profit margin. Women would no longer need appointments to get contraceptive pills, nor would they need the Planned Parenthood middleman to purchase them. Wonder if this is one reason Planned Parenthood has begun pushing IUDs. [UPDATE 7/6 5:30p: Looks like ‘m on to something. Robin Marty, Truth-Out.org, July 5: “Of course, conservatives really want OTC contraceptives not because they think people should have the ability to prevent pregnancy, but because they hope that would put Planned Parenthood out of business. Once again, that is always the end goal.]
[Bottom photo via Planned Parenthood]