Last updated on: 3/15/2022 | Author:

Pro & Con Quotes: Should birth control pills be available over the counter?


PRO (yes)

Pro 1

Malcolm Potts, doctor and Co-Founder of Cadence Health, and Nap Hosang, retired obstetrician and Co-Chief Executive of Cadence Health, stated:

“One of the greatest innovations in human history is oral contraceptives, commonly known as the Pill. With access to the Pill, every woman can exercise her right to decide when to be pregnant and when not to be pregnant, something which is an unambiguous human right. Not only that, but the Pill is the only medicine that a doctor can prescribe which significantly reduces the likelihood of three different cancers by as much as 50 percent. On its cancer fighting ability alone, the Pill is a unique and powerful medical intervention.

This seemingly miraculous drug has been on the market since the 1960s, and its safety and efficacy at preventing both pregnancies and cancers is well documented. One study followed 23,000 women using the Pill and 23,000 matched controls for over 30 years. Nevertheless, millions of women in the United States lack access to it…

The long-term benefits of over the counter access to the Pill are enormous when aggregated over the lives of millions of women each year. These benefits include everything from reducing the burden of an unintended pregnancy, reduced risk of life-threatening cancers, fewer maternal deaths during childbirth for young mothers, and economic improvements as a result of more women completing their education and having the opportunity to pursue careers before having children. One small regulatory change to how a tried-and-true drug is sold can help millions flourish. It’s an easy decision.”


Malcolm Potts and Nap Hosang, “Why It’s Time to Make the Pill Available Over the Counter,”, Mar. 7, 2022

Pro 2

Raegan McDonald-Mosley, obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), stated:

“As an ob-gyn who specializes in family planning, I am grateful for the advancements in contraception and delivery options. However, there is still so much we can do to make contraception more accessible so people can achieve their reproductive desires. Presently, contraceptive pills are not available over-the-counter and require a prescription from a licensed medical provider. The prescription requirement is an unnecessary barrier that lies in contradiction to research that confirms contraceptive pills meet the safety requirements to be dispensed over-the-counter.

Contraception is basic health care that all people—including people of color, people with low incomes and people from rural areas—should be able to access without unnecessary barriers to stay healthy and achieve their reproductive desires. Contraceptive pills are the most common method of non-permanent contraception in the U.S. Every month, over 10 million people in the U.S take contraceptive pills to avoid an unplanned pregnancy and treat health concerns such as painful periods, acne, ovarian cysts and menstrual migraines. The pill’s record of safety is underscored by the low rate of complications reported over the 40 plus years that the pill has been on the market.”


Raegan McDonald-Mosley, “The Birth Control Pill Is Safe, Effective and Should Be Available Over-the-Counter,”, May 17, 2021

Pro 3

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated:

“Barriers to access are one reason for inconsistent or nonuse of contraception. The requirement for a prescription can be an obstacle for some contraceptive users. Several studies have demonstrated that women are capable of using self-screening tools to determine their eligibility for hormonal contraceptive use. Pelvic and breast examinations, cervical cancer screening, and sexually transmitted infection screening are not required before initiating hormonal contraception and should not be used as reasons to deny access to hormonal contraception. Also, a plan to improve access to hormonal contraception should address cost issues. Pharmacist-provided contraception may be a necessary intermediate step to increase access to contraception, but over-the-counter access to hormonal contraception should be the ultimate goal. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports over-the-counter access to hormonal contraception without age restrictions. This Committee Opinion has been updated to expand the focus of over-the-counter contraception to include oral contraceptive pills, vaginal rings, the contraceptive patch, and depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, to address the role of pharmacist-provided contraception, and to provide recommendations for individuals younger than 18 years.”


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “Over-the-Counter Access to Hormonal Contraception,”, 2021

Pro 4

Natalie Willis, National Councillor, for Australia’s Pharmacy Guild, stated:

“Allowing pharmacies to sell the pill in certain situations would take the pressure off GPs [general practitioner] and increase its accessibility for women. It’s merely improving convenience for women to the same level as men, who can pop down to the shops and take care of their contraceptive needs very easily, whereas women have to jump through all these hoops. Rather than making a sensible and progressive decision in the interests of women, this interim decision is a retreat into the safety of the status quo.”


Melissa Davey, “Not a Clearcut Case’: Why a Debate about the Contraceptive Pill Is Dividing the Medical Community,”, Nov. 11, 2021

Pro 5

Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies, and Jeffrey A. Singer, Senior Fellow, both at Cato Institute, stated:

“Congress should revoke the Food and Drug Administration’s power to require women to obtain prescriptions to purchase hormonal contraceptives, a change that would reduce the price of birth control pills and finally allow consumers to buy them over the counter. Congress should make this move without requiring insurers to cover over‐​the‐​counter contraceptives, which would cause prices to increase.

Women have a right to purchase contraceptives without government either forcing them to obtain a doctor’s permission or increasing the price of their birth control… Birth control should be affordable and so easy to access that women can simply send the men in their lives to the store to buy it.”


Michael F. Cannon and Jeffrey A. Singer, “Birth Control Should Be Available Over the Counter. How Congress Can Make That Happen,”, Jan. 27, 2020

Pro 6

Sally Rafie, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California at San Diego, stated:

“Over-the-counter access to the pill might sound revolutionary, but it is already available without a prescription in more than 100 countries. Women don’t need the oversight of healthcare providers to determine if and when they want to have children and they should have convenient access to the tools to help them make decisions about pregnancy effectively.”


Sally Rafie, “Opinion: California’s No-Prescription Birth Control Expands Access for Women,”, June 20, 2018

Pro 7

Hadley Heath Manning, Policy Director at the Independent Women’s Forum, stated:

“Making birth-control pills available over the counter would greatly increase convenience and access for many women, ultimately leading to fewer unintended pregnancies. There is no reason women should have to obtain a prescription for this common, safe and effective drug that has been around since the 1960s…

[I]ronically, the morning-after pill or ‘Plan B’ — which includes a much higher dose of the same hormones as regular birth-control pills — is available without a prescription. It makes no sense from public health standpoint that ‘Plan A’ is harder to get.”


Hadley Heath Manning, “Yes, Birth Control Pills Should Be Available Over the Counter,”, July 13, 2017

Pro 8

The Center for Reproductive Rights, stated:

“[T]he truth is that the most common form of hormonal contraception—the pill—could be even more accessible if it became available over the counter (OTC) to all women. Whether someone needs birth control after office hours, over the weekend, while on vacation, or simply does not have the time or resources for a separate appointment, an OTC pill would offer accessibility and convenience for those unable or unwilling to visit a health care provider for a prescription.

Access to contraception is grounded in international human rights and is critical to an individuals’ [sic] ability to control his or her own life and reproduction. Moreover, making the pill more accessible is an important public health goal because more than half of all pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended.”


The Center for Reproductive Rights  “Over the Counter: The Next Big Step for Birth Control,”, Feb. 2016

Pro 9

Colleen Krajewski, obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN), stated:

“OTC access for oral contraceptive pills has been supported by American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists since 2012. There are several benefits to this. Pills are one of the most commonly used contraceptives, and over-the-counter access removes many barriers to pill use and continuation. I have had many patients who have had interrupted pill use because of the logistics of getting to the doctor’s office for a prescription or the inability to get back to the pharmacy for a refill. Since fertility can return almost immediately after stopping the Pill, I have seen interrupted access to the pill lead to unplanned pregnancy.”


Christina Heiser, “Here’s What Gynecologists Think about ‘Over-the-Counter’ Birth Control Pills,”, Jan. 11, 2016

Pro 10

Eve Espey, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico, stated:

“The major benefits [to birth control without a prescription] are fewer access barriers to safe, effective contraception and to refills for contraceptives, allowing better adherence to these methods. Pharmacists are highly trained professionals and may assist women with access to these contraceptives. However, the need for a pharmacist will still constitute a barrier for some women—ideally, these contraceptives would be over-the-counter with appropriate self-screening for contraindications.”


Christina Heiser, “Here’s What Gynecologists Think about ‘Over-the-Counter’ Birth Control Pills,”, Jan. 11, 2016

Pro 11

Krishna Upadhya, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, stated:

“A clinic visit doesn’t need to be a requirement for women to gain access to effective contraception…

One solution that makes a lot of sense to me? Making oral contraception available to purchase over-the-counter.

It would be a smart move. Studies show that individuals can determine whether birth control pills are right for them and whether there are any health conditions that might make taking birth control pills less safe or less effective without a physician’s guidance. The instructions are simple to follow—you take one pill each day—and you cannot overdose if you take too many.”


Krishna Upadhya, “This Doctor Thinks Birth Control Should Be Available Over the Counter,”, Oct. 30, 2017

CON (no)

Con 1

Omar Khorshid, doctor and President of the Australian Medical Association, stated:

“Taking the oral contraceptive pill is not without risks, and people need to talk to their GP [general practitioner] about which contraceptive option is right for them. It can take a long time to determine which contraceptive pill is appropriate, and this is best done under the advice of a doctor. GPs often pick up health issues and conduct preventative health checks.”


Melissa Davey, “Not a Clearcut Case’: Why a Debate about the Contraceptive Pill Is Dividing the Medical Community,”, Nov. 11, 2021

Con 2

Lila Rose, Founder of Live Action, stated:

“Even the World Health Organization has called birth control, hormonal birth control a Group 1 carcinogen because of all of the health risks, including cancer and heart disease and the other physical risks of hormonal birth control. So, we’re pumping our little girls with hormonal birth control and now they’re making it available over the counter it’s even more accessible to these young girls. What these young girls need and what they deserve and what our young men need and they deserve is real formative teaching about sexual ethics, sexual restraint and respect, so that they can avoid STDs and heartbreak and physical problems and that they can really achieve their full potential. That’s what our young people need. Not dangerous and powerful hormonal drugs.”


Canoe, “Contraception Convenience Comes at a Cost,”, Mar. 20, 2018

Con 3

Kent Sepkowitz, Infectious Disease Specialist at Memorial Ketterling Sloan Cancer Center, stated:

“One person is missing in this: you, the lowly patient, aka, consumer. Leaving aside the safety argument that perhaps the OTC pill invites less safety since doctors no longer are winnowing out people who might drop dead if they take it, here is the impact: Yes, your life is easier because you will be able to get the pill right this second, without calling my office. No, you don’t need to fill out forms and show insurance cards and wrangle over copay. But guess who is paying for the whole shabang? You. Yes, you…

So in the name of consumer independence, Big Pharma and Big Drug Store and Big Insurance have found a way to finally make Uncle Sam smile. Make you pay. You want $200 worth of the pill? Go for it—just pay up first. Looked at this way, reclassification would seem to threaten to push pill use down, not up, since women, many of them young 99 percent-ers, may opt to simply save a few bucks and hope for the best.”


Kent Sepkowitz, “How Over-the-Counter Birth Control Could Screw You,”, Nov. 24, 2012

Con 4

Angela DeRosa, osteopathic doctor, stated:

“While expanding access to OCP [oral contraceptive pills] to help prevent unplanned pregnancies is a good idea, as a physician, there are many reasons I believe that making The Pill available over the counter is a bad idea.

First, as an over-the-counter purchase, it effectively throws the entire burden of cost back onto the shoulders of women.

Second, far too many women only see the doctor when they need their prescription refilled. Many younger, seemingly healthy women would skip this step. Doctors would lose the opportunity to monitor their patient, and potentially identify serious short- and long-term health risks.

Third, when choosing a birth-control method, it’s important to understand HOW it works in your body. Oral contraceptives shut down the ovaries to prevent ovulation. No egg to meet up with sperm, no issue.

Here’s the problem. Ovaries are not just about eggs. Their primary function is to manufacture hormones the body needs.

Most OCPs are a combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone to replace what the ovaries would normally produce.

What they don’t replace is testosterone, which is 40 percent of a woman’s hormonal makeup and ovaries manufacture most of it.”


Angela DeRosa, “Over the Counter May Not Be the Best Choice for the Pill,”, July 7, 2015

Con 5

Arina O. Grossu, Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, and Patricia Livengood, intern at the Diocese of Allentown Office of Marriage & Family Life Foundation, stated:

“Women deserve to know the real health risks of hormonal birth control from their doctor in order to make an informed decision, not from a size-eight font warning label in the supermarket aisle…

First, scientists are discovering health risks that suggest dangers to women’s health and safety. Second, there is the real concern that over-the-counter contraceptives will increase unplanned pregnancies and abortion. Third, making hormonal birth control available over the counter without the oversight and care of her doctor endangers a woman and deprives her of proper informed consent.”


Arina O. Grossu and Patricia Livengood, “Hormonal Birth Control Is Too Dangerous to Dispense without a Prescription,”, Nov. 10, 2016

Con 6

Robin Pierucci, neonatologist, stated:

“Given the side effects we know about, plus what we are in the process of learning, pediatricians should be questioning whether to recommend hormonal contraception [to teens] at all. Thus, increasing access while removing physician involvement is a step backwards for adolescent safety…

Bottom line: adolescent physiology is unique. Studies have not demonstrated that, in this specific population, hormonal contraceptives are safe for developing brains and bodies. I fear that physicians who genuinely want to provide what is best for their patients have acquiesced to cultural mores and overlooked our gaps in knowledge regarding the full spectrum of hormonal contraception’s complications in young women.

Making hormonal contraceptives available over the counter not only removes physicians from good medical decision-making for the teenager, it removes them from an important conversation about so many of the choices teens are making—choices that might be informed more by peers or perceived norms than by long-term consequences or a concerned adult.”


Robin Pierucci, “Is Over-the-Counter Contraception for Teens a Good Idea?,”, June 15, 2017

Con 7

Jennifer Ashton, obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN) and Chief Women’s Health Correspondent for ABC News, stated:

“If you remove completely the patient-doctor encounter that most women and young girls have to go through in order to be put on the pill, you’re removing a major opportunity for preventative health and wellness and STD screening and a whole host of things that women aren’t getting enough of.

It’s generally accepted knowledge that the overall health literacy of the lay population is about at the 7th-grade level, so with one-on-one counseling and me explaining how the pill works, I have some patients come back and say, ‘Well, but when I get my period on the pill…’ They don’t even understand that you don’t get a period on the pill.”


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Debate to Consider if America’s Ready for OTC Birth Control,”, 2017

Con 8

Cortney Mospan, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at Wingate University School of Pharmacy, stated:

“I also am not in support of OTC birth control because I believe this will likely cause another barrier in access: lack of insurance coverage. Prescription insurance does not require coverage of OTC medications, and in my experience, maybe 5% of the time are these covered by insurance companies. So the work that was done by the ACA to increase access through a lack of copays would be negated.”


Cortney Mospan, “Should Birth Control Be OTC?,”, Aug. 8, 2016

Con 9

Poppy Daniels, obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), stated:

“Hormonal birth control is not without risk… My concern is that you’re basically taking women who have no counseling, no family history, no risk assessment, and they’re just getting [hormonal birth control] with no guidance. Why would you take that risk?

… To put [hormonal contraception] on the same aisle as Tylenol and Zantac is absurd.

People think I have some nefarious, right-wing agenda. And that’s just not true. I’m medically responsible for the patients I see, and they deserve to know the potential risks and benefits of each medication.

We’re not talking about pregnancy. We’re talking about whether it is safe for non-pregnant women to buy birth control over the counter. And I don’t think it is.”


Sarah Watts, “An Over-the Counter Pill Isn’t Safe,”, June 15, 2015

Con 10

Olivia Alperstein, Communications and Policy Associate at Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, stated: 

“The concept of over-the-counter birth control ignores the grim reality that not all people can just go to a pharmacy and easily purchase birth control. Some face religious and social backlash for buying pills in full view of their pharmacist and people from their community. Some can’t afford to purchase the pill — if you’re counting pennies and choosing between food and birth control, food wins. Some are young and under a certain state’s law can’t purchase birth control without a parent’s consent. Some are transgender or gender-nonconforming. Some have medical conditions or allergies that place them at risk of serious side effects if the birth control they use isn’t carefully selected and the dosage modified to fit their bodies. The list goes on.

The reality is that most, if not all, people who need or use birth control have to find a specific combination of hormones that works for their body. It may shock some of the male politicians who are governing our right to access birth control, but millions of women don’t all just take one type of pill and have one giant mutual menstrual cycle. Each person’s hormones and menses are different, and getting the hormone combination in our birth control just right is just as important as being able to access birth control in the first place.”


Olivia Alperstein, “From the Left: Birth Control Should Be Free, Not Over the Counter,”, July 16, 2017

Con 11

Sarah Trumble, former Deputy Director of Social Policy and Politics at Third Way, stated:

“Making birth control available without a prescription and at cost won’t make it easier for women to afford contraception. One in three women report having struggled to afford it before the ACA… [P]roposals to allow contraception to be sold over the counter—if we repeal its current coverage as a preventive service without co-pay—would effectively discourage using the very types of contraception that work the best… Limiting birth control to only be available over the counter will cost women more money, reduce their options, and make it harder to access the most effective methods that reduce the need for abortion in this country.”


Sarah Trumble “Republican Proposals for Over-the-Counter Birth Control,”, Oct. 8, 2014

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