Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz Want to Make Birth Control Available on Drugstore Shelves

In Germany, the pill is charmingly called "die Antibabypille."Imago via ZUMA

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Ted Cruz is suddenly a bipartisan Jedi warrior:

As many people have pointed out, Cruz probably isn’t especially interested in making contraceptives more widely available. What attracts him is the fact that if birth control is sold on drugstore shelves it would no longer be mandated by Obamacare.¹

For what it’s worth, I don’t care much if his motives are good or bad. There are lots of benefits to making contraceptives available over the counter, not least of which is that competition would probably drive down prices. In Portugal, for example, where birth control pills are available OTC, the typical cost is four or five dollars per pack. There’s also considerable evidence that pregnancy rates go down if women have quick and easy access to contraceptives instead of having to renew a prescription every month.

Another thing to keep in mind: this would apply to birth control pills, but not to things like IUDs or other forms of long-term birth control, which require a doctor’s intervention.

If Congress passed a bill to make birth control pills freely available, the price would be low and states would still have the option to allow Medicaid to cover the cost. There’s also the simple fact that contraceptive pills should be available OTC. They’re as safe as aspirin, and OTC decisions really ought to be driven by science, not by whatever insurance regulations we happen to have at the moment. I’d take Cruz up on his offer.

¹Actually, I think this would happen only if HHS rewrites its regulations. However, it’s a good bet that Trump’s HHS would do this pretty quickly.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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