Emerging apps, online services pave new path for birth control access


Emerging mobile apps and online resources are providing a new channel for women to obtain prescription birth control that doesn’t require an office appointment or in-person interaction with a physician, according to a recent New York Times report.

Most of the apps enlist physicians who review users’ health data and then issue prescriptions to pharmacies via an online portal, or video service for a much smaller fee than a typical doctor’s visit.

The new options bode well for communities where women do not have easy or affordable healthcare access and could stem abortions by decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies, according to public health experts. Yet,controversy likely lies ahead as the digital contraception options developed by both private and non-profits aren't quite mainstream options yet, according to the Times. For instance, one online pharmacy providing such a service has already received “inflammatory” correspondence.

“We know groups target us,” Peter Ax, CEO of app developer Prjkt Ruby, told the Times. There have been instances of customer imposters trying to lure the online service into rule breaking.

The issue of easy-to-get, affordable birth control has been a lightning rod of debate for the past several years. Just last year, the White House released yet another set of mandates to address employers' religious objections to providing free birth control for their female workers. The prior year. the Supreme Court ruled some private companies are exempt from the requirements based on religious grounds.

Yet, according to the Times, public health officials appear to support emerging digital health services focused on birth control access.

“This kind of access is certainly an improvement for some women who have access to the web and a smartphone,” Nancy Stanwood, the chairwoman of the board of Physicians for Reproductive Health, told the Times. “Look, if I can order something on Amazon and they’re going to drone-deliver it half an hour later to my house, of course we’re going to think of better ways for women to get birth control.”

For more information:
- read the New York Times report