Republicans Are Pushing for OTC Birth Control, And That’s a Bad Thing

It’s not that often that politicians follow through on their grand campaign promises, but Colorado Republican Cory Gardner is doing just that. Now, just a few months after being sworn in as a senator, he is introducing a bill that will allow birth control to be sold over the counter and without a doctor’s prescription. While at first glance, that seems like a big step, in reality, it’s an attempt to undermine real efforts being made to curb unintended pregnancy.

Being suspicious of a Republican clamoring for easier access to birth control is always a wise move, and especially when that same Republican was supporting a “Life at Conception” act that would have made fertilized eggs legally protected “people” and could cause the use of hormonal birth control to be criminalized. Gardner made the switch from “personhood” advocate to “OTC pills” advocate halfway through his 2014 campaign, a wise decision considering the state’s “personhood” legislation failed by popular vote in that same election (again).

Now, however, he is fulfilling his promise, and has introduced a bill that would have pharmaceutical companies sell their products without a doctor’s prescription. “‘Most other drugs with such a long history of safe and routine use are available for purchase over the counter, and contraception should join them,’ Gardner wrote in a statement,” reports The Hill. “He said his bill would benefit women in rural and underserved areas, while also saving people money and time by ‘increasing competition and availability.’”

Conservatives are enthusiastically endorsing the plan, claiming it will make pricing more open and help people decide on which method to purchase. “Over-the-counter birth control would offer new options to women,” wrote Hadley Heath Manning, President of the Independent Women’s Forum. “Consumers would be able to see on the shelf the different products that are available, compare prices, and ultimately select the option that provides them with the best value, just as they choose products in other markets.”

However, it shouldn’t take an economist to see that the price comparison between items found on the shelf will never be as competitive as obtaining no co-pay contraception through a physician as part of a person’s insurance plan, which is what currently happens via the Affordable Care Act. Plus, options like IUDs, implants and injectables are not going to be available in your local grocery store or pharmacy, either. Instead, what the bill does is actually make contraception less affordable and accessible than the current coverage.

Of course, it’s not a coincidence that Gardner has made his move now. Recently, the Obama administration issued a “clarification” to the birth control mandate, the rule that states that all insurers must provide contraception without requiring a co-pay. The clarification requires that any FDA approved contraceptive drug or device be covered with no co-pay, an update that was required to stop insurers from only covering certain types of pills and products from certain manufacturers.

The only way that over-the-counter birth control with no prescription would expand contraceptive access is if your overall plan is to eliminate people being insured in the first place. As long as a person has insurance coverage, far more different types of contraception will be available via that route, and for far less money out of pocket. No wonder the biggest opposition to Gardner’s bill is coming from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Unfortunately, instead of improving access, this bill would actually make more women have to pay for their birth control, and for some women, the cost would be prohibitive,” Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of ACOG, said in a statement. “We cannot support a plan that creates one route to access at the expense of another, more helpful route.”

While it is nice to see a politician actually follow through on a campaign promise, in this case, the Gardner proposal is a swipe at the very thing it claims to be supporting: more access to affordable birth control and more pregnancy prevention. Then again, did we really expect different when it comes to reproductive rights and the GOP?

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Ok, so let me get this's a good thing for Dems to make everyone else pay for someone else's birth control, but it's bad for Repubs to make it easier to get? Doesn't make sense!

Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Sign my petition to end workplace sexual harassment in Ghana!

Jan W.
Jan W.3 years ago

This is a terrible idea.... like most of the GOP ideas coming around nowadays, designed mainly to take control of one's body and reproductive care away from women. They have obviously never stopped to think that not all BC pills are SAFE.... that many cause dangerous side effects, and all prescriptions should be monitored by a DOCTOR,not a damn politician. This is only the tip of the iceberg.... the next step will be to make all such birth control methods prohibitively expensive, so that only the elite (read RICH) can afford them. Why are GOP women not rising up against this and other such laws in protest? Are they all that under the thumb of the menfolks??? What year is this anyway, 1950??? I am 63 and so disgusted with all of this -- women of my generation fought so hard for our rights and now they are methodically being taken away.... by a bunch of dimwitted WH
ITE, MALE politicians. They are not just determined to do away with abortion rights, but birth control as well, as much as possible, in order to REGAIN their former control and domination over women ---- what will be next, our right to VOTE? OWN PROPERTY? Marry who we want? Earn money? WOMEN NEED TO START BECOMING ACTIVISTS.... IF YOU IGNORE YOUR RIGHTS THEY WILL GO AWAY!!!

scarlett g.
.3 years ago

@Eric L. Good comments...this writer R.Marty takes exception and enjoys protesting many actions not "LIBERAL-MINDED"

scarlett g.
.3 years ago

@ERIC L. GREAT POST!! writer,Marty uses most "anything" to fingerpoint and pester those
that are not "liberal-minded"

Rosemary Diehl
Rosemary D3 years ago

No No No that is why we have wanted B/C at no cost. If it is OTC it costs and people may not use it....DUH