Over-the-counter birth control will benefit Latina health

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendation that hormonal birth control (i.e. birth control pills) be sold over-the-counter to increase access and prevent unintended pregnancy would benefit Latina health, according to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

“The recommendation that birth control be available over-the-counter supports what we know about Latinas and contraception: over-the-counter access will greatly reduce the systemic barriers, like poverty, immigration status and language, that currently prevent Latinas from regularly accessing birth control and results in higher rates of unintended pregnancy.

“Over-the-counter birth control will enable more Latinas to plan the timing and spacing of their families, particularly immigrant Latinas who are expressly barred from accessing benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s time for affordable, highly effective oral contraception to be over-the-counter and available alongside condoms and cough medicine. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health urges wide adoption of these recommendations for Latina health.”



Systemic barriers like poverty, language, and immigration status make accessing care more difficult for Latinas, resulting in poorer health outcomes. Latinas have the Latinas have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than their white peers.


Policy recommendations

NLIRH is part of the Oral Contraceptives Over-the-Counter Working Group, a broad coalition of reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations, researchers, and clinicians who share a commitment to providing all women of reproductive age easier access to safe, effective, acceptable, and affordable contraceptives. NLIRH has long championed better access to contraception, including using media platforms and joining with 20 other leading Latino civil rights organizations to urge President Obama to protect access to birth control without expensive co-pays, pushing governors to accept Medicaid expansions and expansions to birth control access, and advocating for wider availability of emergency contraception (Plan B).

The organization also issued a detailed fact sheet about Latinas and contraception for policy makers and journalists. Important facts include:

97 percent of Latinas who have ever had sex have used contraception
1 in 3 Latino/as are currently uninsured
Young Latinas widely report that cost has prevented them from using prescription birth control

NLIRH advocates for comprehensive reproductive health care and continues to urge lawmakers to:

Lift the five-year ban that bars qualified immigrants from accessing means-tested benefits under Medicaid.
Provide continued support for community health centers, including measures ensuring timely compensation, because so many Latinas depend on centers for primary care.
Pass the Health Equity and Accountability Act.
Expand access to insurance coverage for abortion in public and private insurance.




The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 20 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy.

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