AOC Finds Herself Siding With Republicans on Over-the-Counter Birth Control: Here Are 4 Things to Know

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) found herself in unusual company after she tweeted her support for over-the-counter access to birth control.

In the United States, access to birth control pills is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under the current FDA regulations, women must get a prescription from a physician to access hormonal contraceptive pills.

But there have been many calls to change this, including from Ocasio-Cortez. The congresswoman took to Twitter to make the call public.

What Ocasio-Cortez may not have realized was that members of her own party have been the ones standing in the way of over-the-counter birth control. Here are four things to know about the over-the-counter birth control debate.

Making the pill an over-the-counter drug will make it more accessible.

Today, women seeking contraceptives face several hurdles before they have their pills in hand. Because the FDA requires a prescription for access to birth control, women must visit a physician and pay for the appointment, copay, and higher list-cost of the drug, which places a barrier of both time and money between women and contraceptives.

Many believe this is a good move to make, considering that hormonal contraceptives have been proved to be safe and that access to higher dosage emergency contraceptive pills is already available over the counter.

As the Washington Examiner notes, increased access to birth control has a direct correlation with decreased abortion rates. This detail has encouraged many conservatives to get on board with increasing access to the pill.

Republican senators have been leading the way on increasing accessibility to birth control.

Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced legislation that would force the FDA to fast-track the process to reclassify contraceptives as over-the-counter for women over the age of 18.

In a statement about her bill, Ernst wrote:

By allowing women to purchase birth control over-the-counter and without the requirement of a prescription, we are giving them more options, with fewer delays and without unnecessary hurdles. It’s critical we remove barriers for women in Iowa and across the country to give them the best access to care possible.

As Reason notes, Congress does not have the authority to classify drugs, but this bill would hold the FDA’s feet to the fire. Ernst’s bill would call on the department to “give priority review” of the drug, which would allow the makers of contraceptive pills to request an over-the-counter classification — a move some pharmaceutical companies have already vowed to make.

Republicans are even working to make the pill more affordable.

Beyond pushing the FDA to change the classification, Ernst’s bill would ensure that women can use flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts to pay for their pills — something that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended.

Ernst wrote:

The legislation also repeals provisions in current law, under the Affordable Care Act, that affect the use of tax-advantaged savings accounts for health care expenses, such as health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and medical savings accounts (MSAs). In particular, the legislation repeals the ACA’s prohibition on using funds from these accounts to purchase [over-the-counter] medications. It also repeals the $2,500 annual cap on contributions toward these types of accounts imposed by the ACA.

Additionally, the legislation repeals any taxes on contraceptives to make the product as cheap as possible without Uncle Sam taking his cut.

Democrats have been acting as a roadblock.

As Ernst noted, many of the financial roadblocks between women and contraceptives were put up by Democrats who backed the ACA.

Former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards claimed that Republicans were trying to “push women back to the 1950s” by restricting parts of the ACA to allow over-the-counter access. She claimed women would actually pay more for contraceptives if the classification changed because it may no longer be part of their insurance.

Several people took to Twitter to let Ocasio-Cortez know she was in the minority of her party for supporting the switch to over-the-counter.

If Ocasio-Cortez got the ball rolling on the over-the-counter change, it wouldn’t be the first time she reached across the aisle to push policy. As IJR previously reported, Ocasio-Cortez recently teamed up with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to come up with a plan that would prevent members of Congress from cashing in and becoming lobbyists after they serve in elected office.

What do you think?

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Cherl
Member

Oh lord, why does anyone care what this loudmouth thinks. She’s been on the “job” for 6 months. Hardly worthy of being quoted almost daily!

Jill
Member

Glad to see people working together! What about the border crisis? Shouldn’t that come first?? Sounds fine, but if birth control is working to lower the abortion rate, what is the source of that and the hard data? Why is abortion such a hot issue now if it is less needed with birth control? My biggest concern is women will not know the right dosage and mixture of hormones that will work specifically for them. Some pills work fine and others give terrible migraines and other side effects. I would stick with a doctor personally. Does this mean men can… Read more »

Sydney Berner
Guest
Sydney Berner

Birth control should be over the counter and cheap, and abortions less necessary. Money then could be spent on taking care of children already here!

Otis
Member

AOC got something right!

Richard Lefcourt
Guest
Richard Lefcourt

As a hard-working taxpayer, I’m all for low-cost birth control. It’s much cheaper than welfare.

David
Guest

We not only should make this over the counter, we should heavily subsidize this industry. Anyone who wants to be on BCP should be able to do so. No constraints including financial, prescriptions, or anything else. A no brainer.

Michelle Kunert
Guest
Michelle Kunert

There are forms of “birth control” including “Plan B” which expel an already fertilized ovum, and this is not mentioned in their advertising or on the packaging. Those whom are here have to thank God our moms didn’t take “morning after pills” when we were conceived.

Don
Guest
Don

Taking pills that affect hormonal levels without supervision of a doctor sounds dangerous.

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