By Tedi Rollins
Elm Staff Writer
Access to birth control has been a controversial issue for years. There has been a resurgence on the topic throughout the past election season and President Donald Trump’s time in office. With threats to defund Planned Parenthood and an overarching rhetoric against contraception, it makes sense that a new way to receive a birth control prescription would surface.
Nurx is an app that has been making headlines since 2016 updating how women can obtain birth control. As the government has been buckling down on limiting use of contraceptives, the app has been working to pick up the slack. With availability in 16 states and plans for expansion, it is easy to see why the app has become so popular.
Amy Kraft of CBS News said, “There are many hurdles to accessing birth control in America. Some employers will not cover it on health insurance. Women who want a prescription have to wait at a doctor’s office for a (sometimes needless) exam only to get a short-term supply of birth control pills, and then have to schedule another doctor’s appointment to get it refilled.”
Nurx simplifies the process, as each part is taken care of through the app. This innovative concept has done birth control users a great service. Because of the app, more women are able to obtain the prescriptions that they need.
Heather Kelly, a writer for CNN, said, “You don’t need a previous prescription to use the app. There is no physical examination and no time consuming trip to a doctor’s office. All that’s required is an online questionnaire. The information is sent to a partner doctor who writes a prescription, then Nurx fills and mails it. Your pills, patch, or ring arrive within a day or two, and refills can be scheduled automatically.”
The app also provides birth control to people with and without insurance. According to the Nurx website, most health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control completely. If you do not have health insurance, Nurx is still dedicated to making it relatively cheap, with costs as low as $15 a pack.
Despite the app’s growing popularity, some are concerned about the safety of the process. Many individuals fear the easy access for minors, as anyone who is over the minimum age requirement for birth control in their state is able to receive a prescription, while others are skeptical of the lack of direct contact with a doctor.
“The American Medical Association says a ‘valid’ relationship needs to be established between the doctor and patient first, ideally in person or on a phone or video call. The concern is that a text-only interaction isn’t sufficient for gathering information about a patient or monitoring them later,” Kelly said.
Nurx has addressed these concerns and assures users that the process is safe. The app’s medical professionals prescribe by the same regulations as other doctors. While it may feel unusual to go on any type of medication without being observed by a doctor, this is an era of technological development, and we must become accustomed to new ways of doing things.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wholeheartedly supports any effort to make it easier to obtain birth control, from apps to over-the-counter accessibility. In a statement released in 2014, they said, “OTC availability of oral contraceptives will help more women get the contraceptives they need, which have long been proven safe enough to use without a prescription — especially emergency contraception.”
Whether it is needed for contraceptive purposes, or to help with conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis, it is essential for birth control to be obtainable for those who need it. The creation of Nurx and other similar apps provide some security for women during a time when many politicians are fighting against our right to control our own bodies.