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News Link • Drugs and Medications

Over-the-counter birth control? Bring it on

• By DR. JEFFREY A. SINGER

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has called for making birth control pills available without a prescription for years; The American Academy of Family Physicians agrees.

Now that two prominent legislators of such divergent political persuasions have expressed their concurrence with the medical experts, perhaps the time is nearing when the U.S. will join 102 other countries throughout the world and allow women to obtain birth control pills without a prescription.

Defenders of the status quo fear women may forgo necessary preventive care visits if birth control pills are available over the counter. But the ACOG states that "cervical cancer screening or sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening is not required for initiating OC [oral contraceptive] use and should not be used as barriers to access." In fact, there is currently a debate among gynecologists regarding the need and benefits of annual pap exams.

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