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Birth control pills offer limited help

What good are over-the-counter birth control pills is women don't use them or fail to protect against STDs?

As per your recent story, bills pending in each house of the Maryland General Assembly would allow pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives "Hopkins-led study finds 'the pill' would be safe without prescription," March 15). Good idea with one very large problem. The failure to take the birth control pill daily is one of the major causes of the high abortion rate both here and globally. Using the statistics published by the Guttmacher Institute for calculations, over 1 million unplanned pregnancies annually are due to this failure. Another 1 million unplanned pregnancies per year are the result of males not using a condom even though they have one in their pocket. And the annual abortion rate in the U.S.? One million per year. So allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills will not solve the horrors of abortion. Responsible females will — as will having women use a more reliable birth control method. 

The General Assembly also is not addressing the sexually-transmitted disease epidemic both in Maryland and globally (20 million cases in 2015 in the U.S. as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, costing $16 billion in added health costs). They might want to get in touch with Bill Gates on this issue as he's been in search of a better condom.

On its Grand Challenges website, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is offering a $100,000 startup grant to the person who designs "the next generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure" and promotes "regular use." It may sound like the setup for a joke, but the goal is deadly serious. While researchers call condoms one of the best ways to stop the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, getting people to use them is another story.

The CDC estimates there are on average 19 million cases of STDs in the U.S. every year. That is 190 million cases in ten years and 380 million cases in 20 years showing that either many citizens get more than one STD infection or that almost every citizen has had one STD infection in their life. And in most cases, such infections could have been prevented by the proper use of a 50-cent condom. And those same condoms could have prevented most of the unplanned pregnancies many of which resulted in abortions.

Bernard H. Meyer, Elkridge

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