by Gabriella Patti
According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and published in USA Today , distributing 12-months of birth control pills at a time will reduce unintended pregnancies.
The study’s lead author has stated that the distribution of more birth control at one time will reduce the healthcare costs associated with pregnancy, making it economically beneficial.
However, there are serious concerns surrounding this potential plan. At this time, there are 17 states plus Washington D.C. that have laws that require insurers to provide 12-months worth of birth control pills at a time, however, most people have difficulty getting more than a 90 day supply at a time.
According to Cathryn Donaldson, communications director for American Health Insurance Plans, some insurance companies are reluctant to provide this 12-month supply because, as with any medication taken in the long term, birth control comes with risks.
“Side effects and improper use of prescription drugs can have a serious and potentially life-threatening impact on a patient, which is why it is recommended patients regularly consult their physician, pharmacist or other care provider,” wrote Donaldson. She also states that this 12-month supply could cause “waste, fraud, abuse and increased costs.”
There serious reasons to be concerned about how a 12-month prescription system could affect women. While this system may sound convenient, it doesn’t account for the long-term side effects of birth control  that may go unaddressed in a woman who is only required to consult with her physician about her medication once a year.
Safer, More Effective Options
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods  (FABM), also known as “natural birth control ” or natural family planning, allow women to manage their health without putting loosely regulated drugs (that come with many health risks and side effects) into their bodies. When taught by a certified FABM instructor , these methods of family planning are more effective  than the birth control pill in preventing pregnancy. In addition, Fertility Awareness-Based Methods are economically feasible. It’s reassuring to know that methods like FABMs exist, which allow women to take their health into their own hands in an empowered and safe way.
A 12-month prescription of birth control may seem convenient, but it eliminates the need for frequent visits with a physician, which are necessary in order to reassess a woman’s health and address medical side effects. Considering how many women suffer painful and even life-threatening side effects of birth control, from depression  to blood clots , women being prescribed birth control today deserve more medical care and attention, not less.