As mostly male legislators fiercely debate women's health issues and reproductive rights, women all over the country have decided to take things into their own hands, literally. Several apps have sprung up in recent years that offer women access to birth control, sometimes even delivering months worth of pills to customers' doorsteps, The New York Times reports.
These companies have remained "beneath the political radar" because real doctors legally prescribe contraception remotely through the platform. Therefore, these birth control apps are not funded by taxes and do not need to pass through legislation. AKA lawmakers cannot control access to contraception on them yet.
Planned Parenthood, Lemonaid, Prjkt Ruby and Nurx are among the companies that now provide birth control via apps. They all function in essentially the same way, and it's actually pretty simple to get a prescription. All you need to do is fill out a form on your medical information or video chat with a physician, wait for a doctor to review your health history, then you can pick up your newly-prescribed birth control at a pharmacy. Some services even deliver contraception directly to your house. It's that easy.
Most of the apps have age requirements, generally ranging from ages 18 to 35. The organizations usually determine the minimum based upon a state's age of sexual consent or when customers turn 18 (to avoid upset parents for obvious reasons). However, Nurx has prescribed to girls as young as 13-years-old. In general, women older than 35 are at an increased risk of complications from birth control pills containing estrogen, so many of the companies choose not to prescribe to that age range just in case.
Several of the providers also accept Medicaid and other insurances, while others charge fairly affordable fees for the birth control and consultations.
The organizations say that they've come under attack for providing such widespread access to birth control. Opponents send threatening and angry letters, sometimes even signing up for the apps and posing as "customers" in order to catch the companies making possible mistakes. For the most part, though, the services have been successful and will hopefully cut down on unintended pregnancies, which make up nearly half of all U.S. births.
Jacqui Letran, a nurse practitioner in Costa Mesa, told the Los Angeles Times that she had some reservations. "If you're not seeing your healthcare provider on a regular basis, you're missing out on quite a bit of healthcare education," Letran said. "The majority of women can very safely take birth control" but some are at risk of heart problems, blood clots and strokes. Letran suggested getting your original prescription from your normal doctor, then ordering refills through the apps and sites.
By providing a widespread platform to obtain birth control, these companies could help women and reluctant teens avoid an unexpected pregnancy. Cosmopolitan acknowledged that teenage girls could benefit the most out of the new technology. According to a recent study, almost 70 percent of teens said that the primary reason they didn't use contraception was the fear of judgment or disapproval by their parents. With these apps, teens can have safer sex without worrying about their parents' reactions.
For today’s busy women (who shouldn't need to deal with anyone ordering their ovaries around), this could be the perfect solution. Don’t forget to still go to your OB/GYN though, folks. No one likes the doctor, but everyone likes to be healthy!