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UMMS expert calls for better access to birth control

OB/GYN professor backs proposal to allow sales of oral contraceptives over the counter

By Lisa M. Larson and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

December 06, 2012

Julia Johnson, MD, chair and professor of obstetrics & gynecology, believes women should be able to obtain oral contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription, echoing the recent recommendation made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The benefits of providing over-the-counter access to the pills far outweigh the risks, Dr. Johnson said.

“Clearly, oral contraceptives, which are the most common contraception used by women in the United States, need to be made more accessible,” Johnson said. “I really think that making it an over-the-counter medication is going to allow more women to have easier access to something that is a need for the majority of women.”

In a statement released this month, the ACOG said the change is required to address what continues to be a major public health problem—unintended pregnancies. Over the past 20 years, 50 percent of all pregnancies were unplanned, a figure that may finally be lowered if access to contraception is improved, the organization said.

In this Expert’s Corner video, Johnson explains the benefits of widening access to oral contraception.