Teenage girls and women can order birth control from an app that will deliver the medication straight to their home, all without the “hassle” of a doctor’s visit. The app, deemed the “uber of birth control,” is called Nurx and is sure to create a wave of controversy.
If you have health insurance, Nurx is free in most cases.
“Our country’s medical system doesn’t always work very well for patients,” Dr. Jessica Knox, Nurx’s medical director, told the Daily Dot. “We sort of hold women hostage.”
While some people are obviously praising this form of streamlined birth control on-demand, the age requirements are certainly raising eyebrows. Nurx requires only that a person be 12 years old — and does not require parental consent for minors.
We “won’t tell your parent(s) or anyone else that you are on birth control,” Nurx claims.
Here’s how it works: After a consumer answers a few health questions and selects either a brand of birth control, emergency contraception, or the anti-HIV medication drug PrEP, “a doctor in your state will review the request and write a prescription,” the San Francisco-based company says on its website.
“Then, a Nurx partner pharmacy will process the prescription, and Nurx will ship the prescription to you,” Nurx says. “The whole process takes about 3-5 business days once we receive your complete request with all the information we need. Nurx automatically refills and ships your prescription.”
California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., all offer Nurx.
“If you have health insurance, Nurx is free in most cases,” the company boasts. “If you want to pay out of pocket, we have options that cost as little as $15 per month.”
For the month of April, the company gives new users two months of free birth control.
“In the event that a Trump administration repeals the [Affordable Care Act], Nurx’s users who get free birth control with insurance would be affected,” Business Insider reported in 2016. “But where Nurx is immune to the repeal is in its affordable options without insurance, and its ability to bypass logistical obstacles. Contraception could still be delivered to your doorstep.”
The app launched in 2014 and raised $5.3 million from Union Square Ventures in 2016, according to Tech Crunch.
Nurx comes on the heels of a new wave of telemedicine options. In Australia, for example, women were given abortion pills that were made accessible via a 1-800 phone call as part of a telemedicine study. “In Australia, where laws regarding the administration of abortion pills are different than in the United States, telemedicine looks to be an effective and convenient way to surmount the access barriers to safe abortion,” Cosmopolitan magazine noted.
Yet all of this has not gone without controversy.
In Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland pioneered a webcam abortion procedure in 2008 that allowed clinics to administer abortion-inducing medication through technology. While the Iowa Board of Medicine passed new standards in 2013 that would require a physician to perform an in-person physical examination and be present when the patient takes the abortion drug, the state Supreme Court struck down the regulations in 2015.
“Medication abortion gives a woman who is still early in her pregnancy the option to end the pregnancy safely and closer to her home,” a Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokesperson told The Daily Signal back in July 2015.