City Bar Urges Over-the-Counter Status for Oral Contraceptives

In letters sent to Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health, and to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the New York City Bar Association urges that action be taken to give oral contraceptives over-the-counter (OTC) status. “We urge you to support this policy – which strengthens both gender equality and women’s healthcare – through legislation and policy initiatives to make oral contraception more readily accessible in New York State and across the country.”

Prepared by the City Bar’s Committees on Science & Law and Sex & Law, the identical letters note that beyond the “critical role that contraception plays in women’s lives and ability to participate equally in the social, political and economic life of our nation,” efforts to increase access to oral contraception by allowing OTC availability are supported by “compelling scientific and medical evidence” and are in line with “smart public health policy”:

  • First, professional supervision of oral contraceptive use does not change health outcomes or screening; thus, “while it is important for women to discuss their reproductive and sexual health with health care providers, monitoring and limiting oral contraceptive use is not necessary to achieve these ends.”
  • Second, oral contraceptives already meet the FDA’s criteria for OTC status.
  • Third, the current prescription status for oral contraception bars access to these medications for many women, putting those women at greater risk of unintended pregnancies and poor health outcomes.
  • Fourth, some states have already taken steps to improve access to oral contraception through OTC initiatives, demonstrating the “political momentum and clear science” behind better and easier access to oral contraception for women throughout the country.

As the letters conclude, “This urgent matter affects the daily lives of over 50% of your constituents. The United States has always been a leader in science and medicine, and making oral contraceptives available OTC would continue this tradition.”

The letter to Governor Cuomo is available here:

The letter to the FDA is available here: