Donald Trump threw his support behind making contraception available without a prescription during an appearance aired Thursday on The Dr. Oz Show, reasoning that some who need it aren’t able to obtain a prescription.
“When you have to get a prescription, that’s a pretty tough something to climb,” the GOP presidential nominee said to host Dr. Mehmet Oz after being asked about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit. “I would say it should not be a prescription. It should not be done by prescription. You have women that just aren’t in a position to go get a prescription.”
The 2016 Republican Party platform says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation”—presumably referring to the agency’s decision to make emergency contraceptives available without prescription—is a “threat” to women’s health.
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Making contraceptives available over the counter (OTC) is a proposal long supported by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, which charges that it could “improve contraceptive access and use, and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates.”
The Guttmacher Institute’s Sneha Barot wrote in a 2015 policy review that conservative legislators sometimes latch onto these plans “to counter their anti-contraception image, even as they continue their efforts to dismantle the very programs and policies that support increased access to contraceptives.” She wrote that making birth control available without a prescription “would be insufficient as a stand-alone strategy to ensure contraceptive access.”
That’s why, as Sarah Kliff reported for Vox, many reproductive health advocates have opposed Republicans’ efforts to make birth control available without a prescriptions. “They worry that making that single policy change would make birth control more expensive, as insurance plans generally don’t cover medications that aren’t prescribed by a doctor,” Kliff explained.
“Under the ACA, most private health insurance plans must cover the full range of women’s contraceptive methods and services, without out-of-pocket costs to the patient,” Barot explained in the 2015 policy review. “Under this policy, insurers must cover OTC contraceptives, but only if women obtain a prescription—which essentially negates the benefits of OTC status, especially for women who are concerned about costs.”