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FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill, Increasing Reproductive Health Care Access

Source: NC Newsline

In a historical move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the nation’s first over-the-counter birth control pill. 

The approved medication, known as Opill, will go a long way in increasing reproductive health care access for uninsured individuals, and those unable to afford doctor visits. 

“It is important that patients have options when choosing which type of birth control works best for them. We hope this is just the first of several to be approved,” Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, president of the American Medical Association, said in a press statement. “We must continue to remove barriers to affordable care for those in underserved, high-poverty and rural communities. We know barriers to oral contraceptives can lead to inconsistent or discontinued use.”

The approval of Opill comes a year after the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case and erased the federal right to reproductive freedom.

The devastating decision sent shockwaves across the country, as millions lost access to life-saving abortion care and reproductive health care.

According to Human Rights Watch, the consequences of the Dobbs decision have led to increased maternal mortality and morbidity, a climate of fear among healthcare providers, and reduced access to all forms of care.

The conservative ruling has also enabled the criminalization of health care professionals, and patients, for their involvement in private healthcare decisions.

Research from the Guttmacher Institute found that nearly half of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the U.S. in 2011 were unintended, and 18% of those pregnancies were considered unwanted. 

N.C. Newsline reports that further research found that unintended pregnancy is significantly associated with higher incidences of depression during pregnancy and postpartum, along with higher rates of preterm birth and low infant birth weights.

“Opill over-the-counter paves the way for improved access by removing barriers for the people who struggle to access contraception most, particularly people working to make ends meet, people of color, young people, and those who live in rural areas,” Dr. Stephanie Sober, physician and the global lead of medical affairs for Perrigo stated during a press conference.

“The ability to secure insurance, find a provider, make an appointment, and then obtain childcare and access reliable transportation, all can create an insurmountable obstacle to obtaining contraception. Being able to pick it up at a pharmacy knocks down those obstacles, and it’s truly game-changing.”

The medication will be on sale online and in stores across the country by next year. 

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