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.
Partly because birth-control pills are available only by prescription, people tend to think they’re more dangerous and less well understood than they actually are. In fact, “more is known about the safety of oral contraceptives than has been known about any other drug in the history of medicine,” declared an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health back in 1993. That editorial accompanied an article arguing for over-the-counter sales.
Unlike most medications, the article noted, birth-control pills require no medical diagnosis: “A woman herself determines her need for oral contraception; she assesses her own risk of pregnancy … and the costs and benefits of both pregnancy and alternative contraceptions.” Nearly two decades later, birth- control pills look even safer than they did then, and recent research indicates that women are both able and eager to manage their own purchase decisions.
Hang on one minute. Are you trying to tell me that women can make their own decisions about their healthcare without the government interfering? What a novel idea.
(I’m willing to go a few steps further and say that by and large everyone can make their own decisions regarding healthcare, education, housing, finance, etc., not just women)