CHARLOTTE, NC - Women and girls as young as 13 years old can now get birth control online in North Carolina, without going to the doctor or requiring parental consent.
The birth control delivery app, Nurx, was recently launched in the state and is already causing controversy.
“We just have so much evidence that young people are having sex whether we want them to or not,” said Dr. Jessica Knox, medical director for Nurx.
“We have younger patients who haven't been able to access birth control otherwise because their parents aren't comfortable talking about birth control with them," Dr. Knox said. "So they won't take them to the doctor’s office.”
It doesn’t cost anything to use, you just answer a few medical questions inside the app.
The request is then reviewed online by medical professionals like Dr. Knox.
“And then information goes to a clinician who is licensed in that patient's state,” Dr. Knox explained.
The birth control is then shipped for free right to the patient’s door in one of the 15 states (plus Washington D.C. and the Armed Forces) in which Nurx operates. The cost of the birth control is the same as what you’d pay for at a pharmacy.
If you don’t have insurance, prices start at $15 a month.
That’s the part that’s not sitting well with some people; minors are now able to get a prescription without a doctor’s appointment, and without mom and dad ever knowing.
“When young people can't access the services, it doesn't mean they're not having sex,” Knox argued. “It just means they're having sex in a way that might not be as safe.”
The NC Values Coalition disagrees, telling us in a statement:
Nurx is dangerous, because it provides another way for children under the age of 18 to obtain contraceptives without the knowledge or consent of their parents. In North Carolina, contraceptives can only be administered by obtaining a prescription from a licensed physician, so Nurx must utilize telemedicine (the practice of doctors seeing patients online through teleconferencing). Legislation passed this year (HB 283) [that] requires the state to study how to regulate telemedicine, and NC Values Coalition will certainly be advocating for legislators to prohibit the use of telemedicine by minors to obtain contraception.
Regardless, experts warn apps like this should not replace your "real-life" doctor.
“STI screening or HIV testing, pap [smears], breast and chest exams those things aren't available through apps,” clinic director Erin Wilkins said. “So we definitely recommend that people still get their annual check up.”
Nurx is not yet available in Arizona.