Press Release |

Dr. Jamila Perritt Testifies Before the FDA Advisory Committee

Today, President & CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health and ob/gyn in Washington, DC Dr. Jamila Perritt testified before the FDA advisory committee as they consider access to a progestin-only, over-the-counter birth control medication, Opill. The following are portions of her remarks to the committee. You can view the full hearing and hear from the other expert panelists on Youtube.

“I am a board-certified, fellowship-trained obstetrician and gynecologist with a comprehensive background in family planning and reproductive health. I am an abortion provider in the city I call home, the place where I grew up: Washington D.C. And I am the President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a network of physicians across the country working to advance access to comprehensive reproductive health care including contraceptive care for all people. As physician providers and experts in family planning, we believe that the privilege our white coats provide demands that we center those we care for in our work and advocacy.

“I am here to testify today in support of my patients and our communities to ensure equitable access to contraception, including access to birth control pills over the counter.

As a doctor, I know that ensuring equitable access to birth control is essential to the overall health and well-being of people across the country.

“As a doctor, I know that ensuring equitable access to birth control is essential to the overall health and well-being of people across the country. Despite this critical role, birth control is difficult for many people to obtain because, as of now, it requires a health care provider’s prescription despite the longstanding decades of medical evidence and science that points to its safety. Those who cannot afford either the high cost of a medical visit, take time off work, find childcare, or access affordable transportation find it nearly impossible to obtain contraceptive care.

“Reducing barriers to access to all kinds of care, including contraceptive care, helps address inequities in reproductive health outcomes, especially in historically oppressed communities that have been marginalized from care and face higher rates of health inequities and experiences with systemic and institutional racism. The fact that Black and Indigenous women have the highest rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in a country that spends more per capita on health care than any country in the world is not coincidence. It is the result of centuries of structural and institutional racism.

“I would be remiss if I did not stress to you the importance of including young people in this conversation. Far too often, we, as advocates and policymakers, leave them out. Focusing on young people’s access to reproductive health care is paramount. Decades of well-documented research repeatedly proves that birth control, including Opill, is safe and effective. Evidence not only points to the fact that young people can safely and properly take oral birth control but also can correctly self-screen for contradictions and identify potential risk factors on their own as they would for pain or allergy medications. Whatever their situation may be, I am confident that each young person I care for is capable of making complex, thoughtful decisions about their health and lives. I have seen it first-hand.

“There is no question as to both the safety and low risk of providing birth control over the counter, and this Committee should ensure no age restriction is imposed on obtaining Opill.”