Over-the-Counter Birth Control

Over-the-Counter Birth Control

People in Illinois can now access birth control via a consultation with a trained pharmacist, rather than a prescription from a doctor, thanks to a new state law that went into effect in January. 

The law applies to all forms of hormonal birth control, including the oral contraceptive pill, skin patch, and vaginal ring. Trained pharmacists consult with individuals and give them a screening questionnaire to assess any health risks for the medication. 

Advocates, among them Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, vice-chair of research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, applaud the law for increasing access to contraception and allowing women more autonomy and control over family planning. 

Those in opposition, such as Ralph Rivera of the Illinois Pro-Family Alliance, say the lack of an age restriction undercuts parental input in decisions regarding a minor.

However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pushes for even more availability, maintaining that truly over-the-counter access to hormonal birth control — no prescription required, even from a pharmacist — should be the ultimate goal.