March 9, 2012

VIRGINIA POSTREL: TAKE THE BIRTH-CONTROL BATTLE OVER-THE-COUNTER.

Anyone — a local teenager, a traveling businessman, a married mother of four, an illegal immigrant, even a student at a Jesuit university — can walk into my neighborhood CVS any time, day or night, and, for less than $30, buy a 36-count “value pack” of Trojan condoms.

That’s enough to last most Americans at least three months, according to Kinsey Institute surveys. If you want more, you can buy out the store’s entire stock. There’s no limit, and you don’t need to see a doctor for permission and a prescription.

Contrary to widespread belief, there’s no good reason that oral contraceptives — a far more effective form of birth control — can’t be equally convenient.

True, making the pill available over the counter could reduce the amount of outrage and invective available for entertaining radio audiences, spurring political fundraising and otherwise amusing the American public. But the medical risks are quite low.

Well, my wife’s heart attack was probably caused by birth-control pills. On the other hand, the need for a prescription didn’t protect her. And, of course, OTC drugs have risks, too.