Study: Over-the-counter birth control could reduce unplanned pregnancies by one-quarter

The number of unplanned pregnancies among low-income women could fall by as much as 25 percent if birth control pills were available without prescriptions, according to a new study.

Allowing women to buy over-the-counter birth control could have “a significant effect” on the use of effective contraception, according to research published Friday in the journal Contraception.


The new research supports a stance held by advocacy groups and many Democrats that Congress should act to improve access to birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. 

Planned Parenthood, which has long advocated for over-the-counter access, is already praising the study as proof of its position.

“Every woman in America should have access to the birth control method that's best for her, without barriers based on cost, availability, stigma, or any other hurdle,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, wrote in a statement.

Birth control, which is now covered by insurance providers, thanks to ObamaCare, has mostly divided lawmakers along party lines; several GOP candidates last year said they would support over-the-counter birth control, however, most notably then-Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Colorado governor sets up federal PAC before potential 2020 campaign Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (R-Colo.).

Birth control pills are currently not available without permission from a doctor, per the Food and Drug Administration’s rules. If that changed, however, the rate of unintended pregnancies would fall between 7 and 25 percent, depending on the cost of the medications, the researchers found.