DC bill would ease access to birth control pills
WASHINGTON – A new bill introduced in the DC council would allow women to buy birth control pills over the counter without a doctor’s prescription, according to the Washington Post.
The measure, put forth by DC Council member David Catania, would end a long-running law in this city that requires a doctor’s authorization to obtain the pills and instead allow women to purchase them directly from a pharmacist.
“At this point, in this city, it’s already a challenge for many women in underserved communities to get the appointments and then find a pharmacy,” Catania, an independent, told the Post. “I think it’s a way to expand access to contraception and to conserve valuable resources.”
The legislation does not set an age requirement to purchase birth control pills, as Catania says such decisions should be left up to expert regulators rather than lawmakers.
Catania, who is chairman of the council’s Committee on Health, has enlisted the support of the abortion and health services provider Planned Parenthood, which says the bill would help combat unwanted pregnancies.
But issues of quality and approval remain, as any new string of over-the-counter birth control pills would need to be heavily tested for risks and find a way to be marketed appropriately.
The bill may face a collision course with the Food and Drug Administration, which said the use of birth control pills must occur in tandem with advice from a physician, as they can have dangerous side effects for some women.
FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told the Post the issue falls under a “gray area.”
“It’s not something we can definitively speak about as it being against FDA regulations,” she said. “It depends.”