Free the Pill!

Information that men are able to get erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra and Cialis from medical plans, even while in prison, while birth control pills are not available, understandably sends many women into a rage. But it gets worse. Some states, under pressure from misogynist conservatives who still equate birth-control pills with abortion, are allowing pharmacists to refuse to sell birth control pills as an expression of their conscience. Huh? I bet they aren't stopping the peddling of Viagra on moral grounds, even though they must know these drugs are often used for recreational purposes, and not impotence.

Politics around the birth control pill is unhealthy insanity. Karen Platoni explores the issue in the East Bay Express, reminding us that the pill is "highly effective" and "safer than aspirin." Selling it over the counter could prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions annually. So why on earth can't women get their birth control without a prescription?

Platoni says, "America has a serious problem: Nearly half of its pregnancies are unplanned, about three million a year, and 43 percent of them -- roughly 1.3 million -- end in abortion. You could build the world's biggest calculator and still not be able to compute how much this extraordinary unplanned-pregnancy rate costs our society in medical and social support expenses, lowered educational and career attainment, and emotional distress."

The solution is staring us in the face: Make birth control pills available over the counter at drug stores. Hormonal birth control is an unbelievable good solution. Writes Platoni, "It's unobtrusive, reversible, affordable, simple to use, and 99-plus-percent effective if taken properly. Even factoring in misuse, the Pill has a 3 to 6 percent failure rate, better than condoms, diaphragms, sponges, or spermicides. It's also famously safe. As the nation's leading birth-control method, the Pill has been used by 44.5 million women over four decades."

Judith DeSarno, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, has an even better idea: "I think contraception should be handed out on street corners," she said.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.