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Protecting Women’s Access to Birth Control

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)August 19, 2014Articles

Ob-gyns know the critical role contraception plays in preventive care for women. When patients need a prescription for contraception, we expect that they will be able to fill it without hassle. Unfortunately for many women, that isn’t the case. All too often, pharmacists insert their own personal beliefs into the health care equation, refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception.

John C. Jennings, MD

John C. Jennings, MD

Last month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Access to Birth Control Act, S 2625. The bill is designed to prevent interference from pharmacists and ensure that patients get the prescriptions they need. ACOG fully supports this important legislation.

Unintended pregnancy continues to be a major public health issue in the US, accounting for approximately 50% of all pregnancies. An unplanned pregnancy can have negative consequences for mother and child. It can worsen any preexisting health conditions the mother may have, such as diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease. And short spacing between pregnancies is associated with low birth weight and premature birth. Family planning, including contraception, is the key to healthy mothers and babies.

Contraceptives are also used for medical purposes beyond birth control. Contraceptives can be used to regulate menstrual cycles, treat bleeding due to uterine fibroids, and manage pain due to endometriosis. Combined hormonal contraceptives have also been shown to decrease the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer. For more on the importance of access to contraception, see ACOG’s Committee Opinion Over-the-Counter Access to Oral Contraceptives.

Decisions about contraception should be made by a woman and her doctor. Women should not have to face harassment from pharmacists—or anyone else—when filling a prescription. Please ask your US House Representative to support S 2625, the Access to Birth Control Act.

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