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Prescription-free birth control is the real ‘pro-choice’ option [Opinion]

Image via screenshot: The Dr. Oz Show

Image via screenshot

During his appearance on The Dr. Oz Show on Thursday, Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, made an another attempt to appeal to female voters — a group he has been losing to Hillary Clinton in large numbers. He acknowledged that requiring a prescription for birth control can place unnecessary burdens on women.

“I would say it should not be prescription,” Trump said, adding that many women “just aren’t in a position to go get a prescription.”

Over-the-counter birth control is an issue that former Republican candidate, Carly Fiorina, argued in favor of during the primaries, and said that it would help make the contraceptive more accessible. Liberals and pro-abortion groups, however, wasted no time in pushing back against Trump’s comments, arguing that prescription-free birth control would be more expensive for women than the “free” pills covered by health insurance and that insurance companies could drop coverage.

“Days after releasing a maternity leave ‘plan’ for married women only, Trump wants to put access to birth control out of reach for millions of women by making it more expensive,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. “Women shouldn’t have to choose between paying for birth control or buying groceries for the month.”

It’s important to remember that while Planned Parenthood is a clinic that provides services for low-income women, it’s also a lobbying group that has to keep its own interests in mind. Could they be claiming that over-the-counter birth control would be too expensive because, in reality, it would reduce the need for their clinics?

“It’s the same strange logic seen from Democrats, who say prescription-free pills would be more expensive for women since we all get ‘free’ birth control now under Obamacare,” said Elizabeth Nolan Brown for Reason. “Of course, there’s nothing saying OTC pills must come at the expense of the contraception mandate, nor that they would obviate the market for prescription pills.”

What’s even more interesting is that these “women’s health advocates” are neglecting to use health concerns as a caution for over-the-counter birth control. Standard oral contraceptives greatly alter a woman’s hormone levels and have a number of other side effects, including an increased chance of developing breast cancer.

Now, women can make decisions with their doctors about what drugs they want to take without the government actually requiring them to consult a doctor, and assuming they wouldn’t do so is to say that women need government to tell them to be responsible. Still, it’s surprising that the concern for women’s health isn’t part of Planned Parenthood’s argument.

If conservatives were to embrace Trump’s suggestion for prescription-free birth control, doing so would show that they aren’t just interested in banning things or preventing access to oral contraceptives. Instead, it would show that they’re actually trying to provide women with more options and choices than the “pro-choice” party.

“Here, I think the OTC solution is not just viable, but leads people to the logical conclusion they ought to have about birth control policy: your body, your choice, your responsibility,” said Ben Domenech in an article for The Federalist. “People don’t naturally assume that over-the-counter drugs should be available for free: they think they should be able to buy them.”


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