Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz Want to Make Birth Control Available on Drugstore Shelves

In Germany, the pill is charmingly called "die Antibabypille."Imago via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Ted Cruz is suddenly a bipartisan Jedi warrior:

As many people have pointed out, Cruz probably isn’t especially interested in making contraceptives more widely available. What attracts him is the fact that if birth control is sold on drugstore shelves it would no longer be mandated by Obamacare.¹

For what it’s worth, I don’t care much if his motives are good or bad. There are lots of benefits to making contraceptives available over the counter, not least of which is that competition would probably drive down prices. In Portugal, for example, where birth control pills are available OTC, the typical cost is four or five dollars per pack. There’s also considerable evidence that pregnancy rates go down if women have quick and easy access to contraceptives instead of having to renew a prescription every month.

Another thing to keep in mind: this would apply to birth control pills, but not to things like IUDs or other forms of long-term birth control, which require a doctor’s intervention.

If Congress passed a bill to make birth control pills freely available, the price would be low and states would still have the option to allow Medicaid to cover the cost. There’s also the simple fact that contraceptive pills should be available OTC. They’re as safe as aspirin, and OTC decisions really ought to be driven by science, not by whatever insurance regulations we happen to have at the moment. I’d take Cruz up on his offer.

¹Actually, I think this would happen only if HHS rewrites its regulations. However, it’s a good bet that Trump’s HHS would do this pretty quickly.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate