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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Women have a right to over-the-counter contraceptives

    Column: Women have a right to over-the-counter contraceptives
    Annie Marum

    Sex is taboo in American culture, creating misconceptions about contraceptive access for adult and adolescent women.

    The rise in education surrounding birth control methods has decreased unplanned pregnancy rates drastically in recent years.

    Unintended pregnancy rates have been declining for both adult women and teens in recent years. According to NPR, the teen pregnancy rate for girls between the ages 15 and 19 has decreased by 36 percent between 2007 and 2013, and the abortion rate is at an all-time low.

    Even with the decrease in unintended pregnancies, the amount is not as low as it could be with a greater use of contraceptives.

    Greater access to contraceptives would have so many more benefits than consequences for women that are not currently intending to have children.

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    According to a paper from Johns Hopkins, there is no correlation between access to contraceptives and increased promiscuity or riskier sex. Plus, condoms are readily available at most stores, so limited access to birth control is not going to stop people from having sex.

    It is frustrating for women to obtain birth control because, in most states, it has to be prescribed by a doctor, and many teen girls do not feel comfortable getting birth control because of the social stigmas surrounding contraceptives at home.

    This means that, because of sex culture in the United States, teens are more likely to only use condoms or have unprotected sex than adults are. Even though condoms do prevent unplanned pregnancy and are much more effective in STD prevention than birth control, they should not be the only form of contraceptives used.

    A misconception about female birth control is that people will be less likely to use a condom while they are on birth control, making them more prone to STDs.

    However, the Johns Hopkins study shows that most people use condoms when they begin to have sexual relations with someone, then only rely on birth control when they are in an established relationship.

    Another concern around the daily pill specifically is that women and teens will forget to take it, which would make it ineffective. But the study also concluded that women, especially teens, are more trusted to take the pill regularly than they are to use condoms because condom use is “influenced by sexual or emotional pressures.”

    So if lack of access to birth control is the reason for the unintended pregnancy rate, then we should make all birth control more readily available.

    One way to increase access to birth control would be if birth control packs were available over the counter at more local pharmacies, like condoms are. Currently, many states still do not permit over-the-counter sales of birth control.

    Legalization would especially help teens who are concerned about going to the doctor for a prescription in fear of their family’s judgement.

    Despite what many people think,

    the health risks of birth control are actually greater for older people than for younger people.

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    When women go to the doctor the major health concerns that they have surrounding birth control are high blood pressure, heart disease and breast cancer.

    The older women get the more prone they are to developing these side effects.

    Plus, the National Cancer Institute is actually noticing a connection between the pill and a reduced risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

    The pill should be available over the counter due to its public health benefits.

    For women who choose to go to the doctor’s office to receive different forms of birth control, a 2015 study published in The Lanclet found that only half of Planned Parenthood clinics have staff who are able to insert IUDs or progestin implants.

    The same study also found that when long-lasting and highly effective birth control methods are offered, like IUDs or progestin implants, women are more likely to opt for the stronger birth control options.

    Women should be able to easily access birth control, whether that is the pill, a long-lasting birth control method or any other form of contraceptive because they decrease unplanned pregnancy, abortions and public health costs.

    Follow Claudia Drace on Twitter.

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