WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 22, 2012, 08:07 PM

You may soon see over the counter birth control

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- You could soon see birth control right next to Tylenol and Aspirin on store shelves.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- You could soon see birth control right next to Tylenol and Aspirin on store shelves.

A prominent national health panel is recommending selling "The Pill" over-the-counter.

Michelle Osten is a student at NDSU, and takes advantage of free birth control offered by Planned Parenthood. But if she could pick it up over the counter, she says it would be easier to fit it into her busy life.

Michelle: "Then I don't have to order it over the phone, I mean all you do is call in, but if it were just at like, Target, I could just pick it up on my way home or grocery shopping or whatever."

The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, or ACGO, now recommends the birth control pill be sold over-the-counter. Right now, it is only available with a prescription.

The group says more availability would prevent accidental pregnancies, which account for nearly half of pregnancies in the U.S.

Michelle agrees.

Michelle: "It would increase people using birth control just because it would be more convenient."

Other drugs that used to be prescription but are now over-the-counter are the Nicotene patch and allergy drug Claritin. Plan B, or the morning after pill, was approved for over-the-counter sale in 2009.

But is it the same with the pill?

There are risks to taking any drug, and the pill's side effects range from minor to life threatening, including blood clot, stroke, and heart attack.

Some doctors say the high doses of hormones would be too dangerous without oversight.

Robin Shiermeister/NDSU student: "I would caution people that are looking into that, to just look at the ingredients and see what kind of side effects would be possible."

But even if birth control were over-the-counter... the ACGO says women should still visit the doctor each year to discuss risks and benefits.

The ACGO did not address the age to buy birth control over-the-counter, but according to current law, anyone 17 and older can get a prescription without parental permission.