The U.S. appears likely to legalize over-the-counter contraception—a critical step in increasing women’s bodily autonomy and economic independence.

by Sonali Kolhatkar, LA Progressive

A committee of advisers recently recommended that the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begin allowing sales of an over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pill—the first of its kind in the nation. All 17 members of the committee voted to recommend sales of Opill to the public, at a time when the Republican Party has carried out a widespread assault on reproductive health care. Although the FDA can decide whether or not to follow the committee’s recommendations, it rarely overrides it, and is unlikely to do so given President Joe Biden’s pledge to defend against “politically-driven attacks on women’s health.”

Margery Gass, one of the advisory committee members, who is an emerita professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, told the Washington Post, “I think this represents a landmark in our history of women’s health.” Not only is the expected legalization of Opill a step toward bringing the United States up to international standards—currently such pills are available in more than 100 countries worldwide—but it is also a useful political counterattack against a party leading a full-scale assault on the rights of everyone but rich white men. And, most importantly, it has the potential to buttress women’s economic independence.

Seattle, Washington January 19th 2019 the Women's March protest people and signs, hands off my birth control.

By making the purchase of a contraceptive pill as easy and affordable as a trip to the drug store, birth control can become more accessible to those who are uninsured or underinsured, who may not have the time and resources to make an appointment with their OB-GYN, or who may live in rural areas where Republican officials have decimated local free abortion clinics. It is also likely to increase accessibility to the pill among young people of color.

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