Last week, Planned Parenthood announced its opposition to Republican proposals to make contraceptives easily accessible as non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Let me paraphrase Planned Parenthood’s three points of opposition:
1) The expanded access to birth control is being offered by icky Republicans, such as Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner. Republicans hate women. Ergo, vote for Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).
Planned Parenthood claims that GOP efforts to expand birth control access is “an empty gesture,” because (get ready for non sequiturs) Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and support the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.
The Washington Examiner notes that “A number of Republican Senate candidates have backed over-the-counter birth control in races this year, including Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Ed Gillespie in Virginia, Mike McFadden in Minnesota.”
What the leading abortion provider’s press release does not mention is that OTC contraceptives would free many women from having to go to (and pay) its offices to get a prescription for the drugs. If birth control pills were easy to get over-the-counter, it would lose a tremendous revenue stream. It benefits when the government forces women to go to its prescription-writing centers. It benefits by restricting a woman’s access to birth control.
By Planned Parenthood’s own 2012 statistics, 34 percent of its revenue comes from “contraception” services, of which it says 37.9 percent are “oral” contraceptives. That’s 13 percent of its annual dollars that could vanish if birth control pills were sold next to aspirin and antacids.
Its 2013 annual report shows Planned Parenthood took in $1.2 billion dollars, so it stands to lose $156 million a year if GOP proposals gained ground.
No wonder its leaders say women should be insulted. The women in its accounting department will sure be. Those Republican plots are nefarious indeed.
2) The Republicans plan to make birth control cheaply and easily available to all women on store shelves everywhere. But Republicans do not plan to fill store aisles with IUDs and other contraceptive methods that require a medical procedure. Therefore, no birth control (except the already available condoms, spermicides and “Plan B” pill) should ever be sold OTC.
This is like claiming that because grocery stores can’t offer open heart surgery in the pharmacy aisle, they shouldn’t be able to sell aspirin either.
Planned Parenthood is afraid that if birth control pills are put outside of the pharmacist’s cupboard, then insurance companies won’t have to cover them with no co-pay, and therefore somehow any medically provided contraception would also not be covered.
But there’s no one pushing for that. Instead of allowing tens of millions of women to easily obtain contraception, Planned Parenthood wants to ensure it remains the gatekeeper, and restrict a woman’s access to birth control.
3) Since OTC drugs don’t require a prescription, some women may pay for their own birth control instead of having an insurance company do it. Therefore, no women should be able to have access to OTC birth control pills.
This is comparable to arguing that because Nexium is now available as an OTC drug (at a significantly reduced price), I can’t get a prescription for it and have the insurance company pay. That’s not true.
Granted, the insurance company may prefer that I buy it for myself off the shelf, but while insurance companies may change their formularies for prescription coverage all the time without much public clamor, there’s no way they can change their coverage of birth control pills without clothes-rending and wailing from groups like Planned Parenthood and government intervention from HHS.
Note that it was the Democrats in their design of Obamacare that intentionally stripped out all coverage under Health Savings Accounts of over-the-counter drugs unless they were accompanied by prescription. Seems like someone was trying to protect a few prescription writers’ cash cows.
Planned Parenthood also sides with pharmaceutical companies as it notes in underlined text in their press release: “there is not a single manufacturer that has submitted an application to the FDA to [sell its product over-the-counter].”
That same press release says “In 2013, 56 percent of women paid no out-of-pocket costs for prescription birth control, up from 14 percent in 2012.” This means that 44 percent of women did pay out-of-pocket costs. At the very least, those 44 percent are being needlessly inconvenienced by OTC access opponents such as Planned Parenthood.
All in all, the fears that Planned Parenthood expresses as an effort to stop the Republican plan to give women greater access to contraception belies its true agenda: protecting Democrats, precription writers, Big Pharma and its 156 million dollar pot of birth control pills.
[originally posted at LegalInsurrection.com]