Last updated on: 1/22/2024 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Birth Control Pills Be Available Over the Counter (OTC)?

About 10.5 million American women of reproductive age (15-49 years) used the birth control pill between 2017 and 2019. The Pill was the second most commonly used method of contraception in the United States after female sterilization (aka tubal ligation or “getting your tubes tied”). The Pill is currently available by prescription only, with the exception of Opill (a progestin-only pill), and a debate has emerged about whether the birth control pill should be available over-the-counter (OTC), which means the Pill would be available along with other drugs such as Tylenol and Benadryl in drug store aisles. Since 1976, more than 90 drugs have switched from prescription to OTC status. For more on OTC birth control, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)

Pro

Nikki Haley:

“If anyone over the age of 18 wants to do that [obtain contraceptive pills over-the-counter], that’s for them to decide…. It’s always good to have your doctor involved. But again, it’s about making sure that people have access. I think contraception needs to be accessible. I think people need to be able to have access to it. I’ve always believed that I think that if you want to empower people, then empower them to make the decisions they need to make. And if there’s someone who doesn’t want to have a baby and wants to take the precautions to not do that, they should be able to have access to make sure that happens.”

-

Tiana Lowe Doescher, “Nikki Haley Supports Over-the-Counter Birth Control,” washtingtonexaminer.com, June 4, 2023

Pro

Donald Trump:

“I think what we have in birth control is, you know, when you have to get a prescription, that’s a pretty tough something to climb, And I would say it should not be a prescription, it should not be done by prescription…. You have women that just aren’t able to go get a prescription. So and more and more people are coming out and saying that, but I am not in favor of prescription for birth control.”

-

Reena Flores, “Donald Trump: Birth Control ‘Should Not Be Done by Prescription,’” cbsnews.com, Sep. 15, 2016

CON (no)

Not Clear or Not Found

Joe Biden:

“Through today’s Executive Order, the President will announce actions to: …Promote Increased Access to Over-the-Counter Contraception. The Executive Order directs the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and HHS to consider new actions to improve access to affordable over-the-counter contraception, including emergency contraception. These actions could include convening pharmacies, employers, and insurers to discuss opportunities to expand access to affordable over-the-counter-contraception; identifying promising practices regarding the coverage of over-the-counter contraception at no cost to patients; and providing guidance to support seamless coverage of over-the-counter contraception.”

Editors’ Note: Biden has been marked “not clearly pro or con” because, while the executive order promotes increased access to OTC contraception, it is unclear whether the contraception promoted is a daily birth control pill.

-

White House, “FACT SHEET: President Biden Issues Executive Order on Strengthening Access to Contraception,” whitehouse.gov, June 23, 2023

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

No position as of Dec. 20, 2023