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Context

Women having abortions are at high risk for future unintended pregnancy, and removing the prescription requirement for oral contraceptives may increase continuation and adoption of this effective method.

Methods

A survey fielded from May to July 2011 collected information from 651 women aged 15–46 seeking abortion services at six urban clinics from across the United States. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate women's interest in over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives.

Results

Eighty-one percent of respondents supported over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives; while 42% of women planned to use the pill after their abortion, 61% said they would likely use this method if it were available over the counter. Thirty-three percent of women who planned to use no contraceptive following their abortion said they would use an over-the-counter pill, as did 38% who planned to use condoms afterward. In multivariable analysis, several subgroups had increased odds of likely over-the-counter use: women who were older than 19 (odds ratios, 1.8 for those aged 20–29 and 1.6 for those aged 30–46), were uninsured (1.5), had ever used the pill (1.4), had had difficulty obtaining a prescription refill for hormonal contraceptives (2.7) or planned to use the pill postabortion (13.0). By contrast, compared with white respondents, women of other races or ethnicities were less likely to say they would use over-the-counter pills (0.4–0.7).

Conclusions

Interest in a hypothetical over-the-counter oral contraceptive was high in this sample, and this delivery model has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancy among abortion patients.