Planned Parenthood is working on a new app that will enable women to purchase birth control prescriptions without needing to visit a doctor. The app will enable women to converse online with a nurse practitioner and obtain mail-order birth control pills. The app will be available in Washington and Minnesota but the hope is to make it available nationwide.
From the new app article in the Seattle Times:
Chris Charbonneau, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest: “People are sexually active for six to nine months before they get a really reliable birth-control method.” . . . “You remember back in the day, we thought we needed a pelvic exam and 37 other things in order to get birth-control pills,” Charbonneau says . . . All it really did was convince a lot of women that birth control had something to do with having a pelvic exam, she says. In fact, the only relevant test is blood pressure to make sure it’s not high, she says, a number the medical provider will ask for. In most communities, blood-pressure readings are available at drugstores and community centers. “When we actually took ourselves through the discipline of figuring out exactly what’s safe and what’s not safe, in the bricks-and-mortar world we decided long ago we didn’t have to do a pelvic exam,” Charbonneau says, and it didn’t make sense to add requirements for the online world. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024575540_plannedparenthoodappxml.html
Pelvic exams impose an unnecessary hurdle to health care that some women find unacceptable, humiliating and traumatic. Women may be reluctant to visit doctors for birth control pills due to the pelvic exam requirement that some health care providers still insist on. In fact, a recent poll on this site indicates that roughly 84 percent of respondents have stopped going to doctors due to pap test coercion.
The World Health Organization (WHO), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and other health leaders have declared that a pelvic exam/pap test is not medically necessary for birth control pills. ACOG notes that “half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended”. ACOG specifies that “screening for cervical cancer or STIs is not medically required to provide hormonal contraception”. However, even though the medically unnecessary exams may be a contributing factor in high rates of unintended pregnancy, many doctors still insist on examining women prior to granting prescriptions.
Some women have already found a way around the pelvic exam obstacle by ordering birth control prescriptions online, but the new app promises to provide an additional option.