Ask any woman who has used the birth control pill about the time she needed to get pills and couldn’t because she couldn’t get a prescription in time, and she’ll have a story. That time she was on vacation and forgot her next pack of pills. That Sunday morning she opened up her medicine cabinet to find that the pack she finished yesterday was the last pack she had. That time she couldn’t get an appointment with her health care provider until weeks after her last pack of pills expired. Or that time she didn’t have a regular provider that she could call. Most of these women probably ended up with a gap between when they finished their birth control and when they were able to get a new pack of pills. And there’s a simple solution to this problem: there should be at least one birth control pill available over-the-counter.

This doesn’t mean every pill that anyone could ever want should be on the shelves. It could be one specific pill, a progestin-only pill, which has very few contraindications and women are able to self-screen for them. It doesn’t mean that women won’t be visiting their health care provider. Women should still see their providers regularly for well-woman visits (without cost under the ACA!) for many things, like STI testing, blood pressure screening, and talking about what birth control option is best for them. And it also doesn’t mean that health insurance plans would stop covering birth control pills. The health care law requires coverage of all FDA-approved birth control methods without out-of-pocket costs even when they are over-the-counter, although with a prescription.

What it does mean is that women will be able to use the birth control method that they have determined is best for them when they need it. You can find out more about why an over-the-counter birth control pill makes sense at: http://FreethePill.org.