There are 40 million cases of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. each year yet access to birth control remains a very highly controversial political topic. And now there are at least 6 ventures or private companies (including Planned Parenthood)that have released desktop or mobile apps that enable women to get birth control without a doctor’s prescription.
The apps only require users to answer questions about their health online or by video. All of the apps prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills. Some ship contraceptives directly to women’s doors.
The app makers only have to follow state telemedicine laws and are not tied by federal regs and ongoing political wrangling.
Some of the apps, like web-based Nurx and mobile app Lemonaid, 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, the New York Times reports.
The apps are said to eliminate the time and cost for some women to go to the doctors.
The apps also enable teens to get around their family doctor and having their parents find out they are having sex. No more intimidating or embarrassing trips to the clinic when your mom thinks you’re going to the movies. Whoa!
While these are great for convenience for many women, we can easily see where some parents may oppose these apps. They really do cut the parent out of the equation. Even if a mom or dad has opened up a clear path of communication, a lot of teen girls simply will not feel comfortable going to a parent for birth control.
And there is the case of a 15-year old girl whose mom did approve but was turned down when the family doctor told them “oh you don’t need to be doing that.”
There are some great anecdotal interviews with women who benefit from these apps in a NYT piece that was released today. Check it out there.