Apps help women bypass states' barriers to contraception

In many states in America, legislatures have erected punitive, vindictive barriers for women seeking contraception, requiring them to get prescriptions for safe, widely taken medications.

In response many organizations, including Planned Parenthood, have created apps that let women easily locate doctors who'll electronically prescribe birth control pills, rings, patches, and emergency contraception.

America leads the developed world in unplanned pregnancies. The apps charge small sums to recover expenses, but allow women to get contraception without paying for a doctor's visit and missing work.

The Planned Parenthood app, Planned Parenthood Care, also allows women to videoconference with doctors to discuss reproductive and women's health issues.

With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. Experts increasingly encourage long-acting contraceptive methods, like intrauterine devices, but usage, while growing, remains low. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly. For some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing.

Efforts to eliminate hurdles to contraception — including the Obama administration's controversial requirement under the Affordable Care Act that all health plans pay for prescription birth control — have often been met with emotional political and religious opposition.

Birth Control via App Finds Footing Under Political Radar
[Pam Belluck/NYT]