Empowering Women: A Feminist Argument for Over-the-Counter Sale of Oral Contraceptives
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CitationEmpowering Women: A Feminist Argument for Over-the-Counter Sale of Oral Contraceptives (2005 Third Year Paper)
AbstractThe oral contraceptive pill, having been on the market for 45 years, should be sold over-the-counter. There is no longer any valid reason for FDA to maintain the prescription status of the drug. First, numerous studies over the past few decades have shown that the pill is safe for the vast majority of women, with current risk to users estimated to be less than the risks associated with pregnancy. In addition, the pill is effective and easy to use. Studies have shown that the pill also confers numerous health benefits in addition to its contraceptive indication, including reduction of risk of developing several forms of cancer. When a cost-benefit analysis is undertaken, it is clear that an over-the-counter contraceptive pill provides more benefits than costs to society. Aside from these traditional arguments, it can also be argued that providing women with greater access to the over-the-counter pill will empower women to take control over reproduction to a greater extent than is currently possible, and will thereby decreases the power differential in male-female sexual relationships. This approach would also end the discriminatory and patronizing practice of conditioning receipt of birth control on annual medical exams. The FDA or other government agencies should implement policies to ensure equal access to the over-the-counter pill and to ensure that the pill remains safe and effective for women.
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