Should birth control be an over-the-counter (OTC) drug? This is the question raised from Senate File 348 that has been introduced and has gained quite a bit of momentum from Tuesday’s subcommittee.
This bill would allow birth control to be accessible without a prescription from a doctor for those who are 18 years or older. This would exclude “any drug intended to induce an abortion.” It would also come with a stipulation that a pharmacist can only dispense the contraceptive for 24 months without a consultation from a practitioner (this is something that is likely to change if the bill passes to make the initial amount of the drug be between 3-12 months).
There would also be an extensive questionnaire that the patient would be required to fill out before purchasing the drug. After having the privilege to listen to this subcommittee and hear both sides present their opinions on the bill, it really got me thinking and I have some thoughts and questions being an Iowa citizen and a Christian.
This bill is being championed as a bill for women’s health and rights, but is it really in the best interest of women as it comes to their health? The first main concern I have for women’s health and making birth control essentially an OTC drug is of course the side effects. There is a reason, after all, that birth control has been a prescription drug.
One of the top side effects for birth control is depression, in fact, Medical News Today has depression as a top-10 side effect of birth control. Now many people would like to downplay depression and say that it really isn’t a big deal, but I will remind you that depression is constantly being used as a reason a woman can have an abortion, why would people (liberals) think that depression is a big enough deal to warrant the murder of a child and yet be willing to hand out a drug without supervision that commonly produces depression in women?
Now to that I am sure those in favor of the bill would tell me, “it isn’t without supervision, the pharmacist will supervise”. This brings up the next great concern I have for women’s health if this bill passes. Are pharmacists qualified and trained to notice the side effects that come with birth control?
I understand pharmacists are some of the sharpest people that walk the face of the earth and that the bill requires patients to fill out a questionnaire; but I must believe there is a reason doctors have their patients come in for a consultation. The reality is, doctors often catch a side effect from talking to or looking at a patient because they are trained to do so. At this time, I would like to quote a pharmacist so we can understand a general principle on OTC drugs.
“Over-the-counter medications are intended to treat short-term illnesses and symptoms,”- Amy Tiemeier (associate professor in the department of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy).
Birth control doesn’t fit into those two categories, it is generally not intended to be used short-term and it doesn’t treat symptoms (it is intended to prevent pregnancies). This also brings a concern for women’s health, as it is best for any patient to be regularly monitored by a doctor if they are going to be on any medical drug for anything over a short period of time. Therefore, even your cold medicine will tell you to see a doctor if your symptoms persist for a specific length of time.
Something that this bill also does not seem to account for is the health of the transgender community. For women, an accidental overdose or continued use of birth control is normally not life altering barring side-effects (I’m not pushing for a ban on birth control, I just believe it should require a prescription). For men, it could become a form of hormonal treatment.
This is something that I imagine would be appealing to the transgender community due to the price of hormonal treatment. Once again this actually would endanger the person who chose to use the drug in that way as they would be engaging in a totally unsupervised hormonal treatment and would be putting themselves up for significant risk.
This bill not only puts the health of Iowans at risk, but it also has some significant logistical and wording issues. For instance, what would stop someone from going to the pharmacy across town and getting a second dose of birth control? How could you turn down a biological man from accessing these drugs? If you did turn down a biological man from purchasing these drugs, would it make the state of Iowa liable of a discrimination crime? How do you hold pharmacists accountable as there is no liability stated for the pharmacist? Just because a drug isn’t “intended to induce an abortion”, could it still be used to for that purpose?
The reality of it is that this bill is a train wreck even if it did not endanger the health of the people of Iowa.
As a Christian I also have great concerns of how this would impact the spiritual state of Iowa. The Bible clearly teaches that sex outside of marriage is a sin and goes against God’s design (Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5). This bill seems to promote promiscuity and puts us on a slippery slope to soon have another bill aimed at minors having the same access to birth control.
For all of these reasons I urge you to oppose this bill. I also would encourage you to contact your representatives and ask them to oppose this bill. SF 348 does nothing but add risk to Iowans, especially the women of Iowa.