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OTC Birth Control Debate

VAN HORNE, IA(CBS 2/FOX 28)-Some lawmakers are debating whether to make birth control available as an over-the-counter contraceptive.

Moral debate aside, they said it could lower unintended pregnancies and help reduce birth control costs for some women.

Right now, a month's supply can cost up to $162 with insurance. It all depends on how you look at it. One Eastern Iowa pharmacist said it would benefit women who currently don't have medical insurance.

Other experts said it would also cut down medical costs and visits to the doctor because of a potential drop in unwanted pregnancies.

"For the consumer it would be great, the accessibility would be a lot better, the cost might be a little more, sometimes it's the opposite," Cornerstone Apothecary Owner and Pharmacist, Beth Hoopes said.

As a pharmacist, Hoopes understands both sides. But she said it can get complicated. Unlike other drugs, birth control pills are not only used to prevent pregnancies but for excessive bleeding, acne and migraines.

"There are several birth controls that are better for certain individuals that sometimes is just not fixed by having a conversation with your pharmacist. That is definitely something you have to go and talk to your doctor about."

She said not getting annual check-ups could be an issue.

"A majority of insurance companies are covering birth control pills as well as the yearly appointments that would screen for certain types of cancers that can be increased by taking the birth control pill," she said.

Hoopes said there would need to be regulations like requiring a legal age to pick it up or a visit with your doctor.

"So they can get more education on it and not just go and grab it," she added.

According to a study published in the Contraception Journal, unintended pregnancies would drop by about 25 percent if birth control pills were available over the counter and covered by insurance.

We asked your opinion on our CBS 2/FOX 28 Facebook pages.

Amber said, "I think when you first start taking birth control you should see a doctor but after that it can be given over the counter."

But Donna writes, "Not a good idea because there are many different strengths and combinations of hormones in them."

Carli simply answered, "Yes!" where others like Condra said "Terrible idea."

"I do think that if it does go over the counter it shouldn't be 100 percent over the counter. It might be better behind the counter," Hoopes said.

Hoopes said over-the-counter birth control could cost anywhere from 20 dollars to $180.

She also said some insurance companies might still pay for over the counter birth control if you have a prescription, where if you pay out of pocket, you would not need a prescription.

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