Doctors have argued since 1968 that the pill can safely be sold over-the-counter. That means rather than go to a doctor or clinic for a prescription, a woman could go to a drug store to pick up a pack of pills in the same way she can now buy aspirin. Behind-the-counter means a woman would ask a pharmacist for the pill, but she still wouldn’t need a prescription from a doctor. Over 50 drugs that were once prescription-only are now OTC in the U.S., including Sudafed, Cortaid, Advil, Nyquil, Monistat, and Claritin.
Women in over 80 countries can already buy the pill without a prescription—including women just across the border in Mexico. As medications go, the pill is very safe—safer than having a baby, driving, smoking, or taking daily aspirin.
That said, the pill does have risks for women with certain medical conditions, but one study in El Paso showed that women who answered 15 questions were pretty accurate in choosing whether the pill was safe for them.