It’s actually the norm around the world for women to purchase birth control pills without a doctor’s prescription.
Ladies in high-income countries like the U.S., Japan and Australia are generally required to get prescriptions first, but those in countries like China and India aren’t, reports Reuters. In all, only 45 countries require a prescription for birth control pills, while women in 102 countries can either access the pill over the counter or do so once they’ve completed a simple screening
The idea has some important backers in America.
Currently, most American women get their birth control prescription after getting a check-up, which includes cervical cancer and STI testing, at the doctor’s. While those tests are important, they’re not necessary before starting the pill, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The ACOG has endorsed true over-the-counter access for birth control pills since 2012, saying that women are capable of screening themselves to see if it’s safe for them to take the pill. In fact, ACOG thinks that the new laws in Oregon and California don’t go far enough. In a Jan. 2016 statement, they re-iterate their support for actual over-the-counter access and emphasize that because the new laws in California and Oregon still require a prescription from a pharmacist, they only replace one barrier with another.
Women are more than capable of figuring out if the pill is right for them.
Like all hormonal birth control, the pill carries some heightened risks, which is why women who have a history of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and uncontrolled high blood pressure should not use it. Likewise, women who smoke and are over 35 are also at a heightened risk of a medical condition if they take the pill.
But as the ACOG states, several studies have shown that women indeed are more than capable of telling whether or not the pill is right for them. For instance, 2006 study conducted in Seattle found that women’s self-evaluations about whether or not they should take the pill matched up to their doctor’s evaluations more than 90 percent of the time. When there was disagreement between the two, it was usually because the women were being more vigilant and cautious about their own risks than the doctors.