Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Birth Control Should Be Free And Over-The-Counter

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman lawmaker from New York, has started making the case that women couldn’t have to pay high fees for access to birth control, Newsweek reports. Or, she suggests, perhaps women would not have to pay for it at all.

“Psst! Birth control should be over-the-counter, pass it on,” she wrote on in a series of tweets on Friday. “(It should be free, too—like in the UK!),” she added.

In the case of the United Kingdom, women are able to access contraception, including three kinds of birth control pills, without having to pay. The birth control pills are available through the U.K.’s National Heath Service, which manages health care there. These contraceptives are available in the U.K. free of charge through community-based contraception clinics throughout he country, plus, through sexual health clinics. In addition, doctors are also able to provide them to patients, again free of charge.

And birth control is not the only thing that Ocasio-Cortez is advocating to make it easier to access. This week she filed legislation that would eliminate legal barriers making it more difficult for researchers in the United States to study the health benefits of certain psychedelic drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms. Also included in the proposal is MDMA, which is the active ingredient in ecstasy.

The proposal comes in the form of an amendment to an appropriations bill which will fund portions of the government for the fiscal year 2020. It would remove a provision that prohibits the spending of federal money on activities that promote the legalization of any drug or other so-called “Schedule I” substances under the Controlled Substances Act.

Schedule I drugs, including heroin and cocaine, are officially determined to have no legally acceptable medical use. Also under the umbrella of Schedule I, however, are potentially therapeutic substances including marijuana, psilocybin, and MDMA.

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“From the opioid crisis to psilocybin’s potential w/ PTSD, it’s well past time we take drug use out of criminal consideration + into medical consideration,” Ocasio-Cortez said as she announced the legislation on Saturday. “That begins with research. I’m proud to introduce an amendment that helps scientists do their jobs.”

If approved, Ocasio-Cortez’s measure would overturn funding restrictions that have been in place for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education since 1996.

The proposal comes on the heels of a recent referendum in Denver, Colorado, which would make “personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms” by those age 21 or older to be viewed as “the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.”