There’s an excellent article in the Financial Times about access to Epi-Pens, those easy-to-use pens that administer just enough epinephrine to people going into allergic shock to stop the reaction. They’re not dangerous. The only likely side effect is a slightly increased heartrate. But Epi-Pens are only available by prescription and may only be administered to a specific patient. As a result, only a small percent of people with severe allergic reactions carry these life saving devices. Why? The Financial Times writer posits: “The issue at stake revolves around the degree to which the US government is willing to let its citizens buy and administer life-saving medicine without state controls.”
What, you may ask, does this have to do with birth control? There’s been a lot of talk by liberal politicians (including my own rep, Jackie Speier – sorry) about Republicans wanting to stifle women’s access to birth control. But birth control pills are another one of those medicaments only available by prescription for no discernable reason. You can buy them over the counter all over the world, including in places like Pakistan – hardly a hotbed for women’s rights. But in America, you need a doctor’s prescription and most doctors, apparently convinced that women are too stupid to make decisions for themselves about when to get a cervical exam, “require” a pap smear as a precondition for the prescription. (Should you be unfamiliar with it, a pap smear is a test for cervical cancer and has nothing to do with one’s ability to process a daily birth control pill. It does, however, add a lot to the cost of the process.)
So liberal ladies – if you really want to make birth control more accessible, how about a little less nanny-stating and a couple fewer prescriptions? Eh?