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

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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