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Monday, 27 June 2016

Brave New World: Birth control is only a click away on new app

Pam Belluck via
The New York Times

A quiet shift is taking place in how women obtain birth control. A growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor. 

The development has potential to be more than just a convenience for women already on birth control. Public health experts hope it will encourage more to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions.

Comment: Perhaps public health "experts" ought to educate themselves on the health dangers of birth control pills. Maybe then they'd be a little less cavalier about encouraging women to use them.

And as apps and websites, rather than legislative proposals or taxpayer-funded programs, the new services have so far sprung up beneath the political radar and grown through word of mouth, with little of the furor that has come to be expected in issues involving reproductive health.

At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills. Some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors.

Some accept insurance, including Medicaid for women with low incomes; some charge modest fees. Some send prescriptions to local pharmacies, where women can present their insurance information when picking up the contraceptives.

"At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, 24, an auditor in Dearborn, Mich., who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. She noticed an app called Lemonaid. For $15, a doctor reviews a woman's medical information and sends a pill prescription to a local pharmacy.

"I thought it was just a setup to get money," she said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills. 

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