Ill. Attorney General urges FDA to approve over-the-counter birth control pill

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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Friday announced joining a coalition of 21 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve over-the-counter birth control pills.

If approved, safe and effective birth control pills will become available for purchase over the counter, removing barriers that currently keep many people from accessing timely reproductive care. In a letter submitted to the FDA, Raoul and the attorneys general argue that approval of the pill would allow individuals — especially those from vulnerable populations — to take greater control over their health, lives and futures. It would also help them avoid the health and economic perils that come with unwanted pregnancies. 

“Women have the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions, including having access to safe, effective birth control,” Raoul said in a statement. “In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, it is crucial that reproductive health care be available to all women who need it. That is why I am calling on the FDA to approve over-the-counter birth control pills.”

The FDA is currently reviewing an application to approve a birth control pill, named Opill, for OTC use. If approved, people who need birth control would be able to walk into a pharmacy and buy it without a prescription, making it the first-ever birth control pill sold OTC.

In the letter, coalition points out that the medical community supports approving an OTC birth control pill. Three major medical organizations in the United States — The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians — support making birth control available without prescriptions. Moreover, birth control pills are already available over the counter in approximately 100 countries.

Raoul and the attorneys general also point out that in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this year, many states have banned or restricted abortion, narrowing the choices for those seeking reproductive care and making access to birth control even more critical, including for residents of Illinois who may be traveling, temporarily living, working or studying in anti-abortion states. Studies have shown that making birth control pills available OTC would increase the use of contraception, resulting in up to a 25% decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies.

In filing the open letter, Raoul is joined by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.