Can Nurx, the ‘Uber for Birth Control,’ Help Women in the Nation’s Contraceptive Deserts?

Birth control is just a few clicks away, no doctor visit needed, thanks to a telemedicine app that has left some pro-life advocates wary.

Often referred to as the “Uber of birth control,” Nurx ships birth control directly to a woman’s doorstep, bypassing the traditional visit to a clinic or physician typically necessary for getting or renewing a prescription.

Available in 15 states plus Washington D.C., the app may simply be an extra modern-day convenience for some women.

But for others, it’s the difference between having access to birth control and not.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, nearly 20 million women in America live in so-called “contraceptive deserts”: counties where the number of public clinics is not enough to meet the needs of the county’s population. The group estimates that more than 19.7 million females ages 13 to 44 lack reasonable access to public clinics that provide birth control, defined as at least one clinic or provider for every 1,000 women.

“If a woman has to travel three counties away to access the method of contraception that is right for her, that creates a lot of barriers, especially for women who are living on limited income or below the poverty line,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The organization found that Texas — which sadly lays claim to the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, plus the nation’s highest repeat teen pregnancy rate — has the highest number of contraceptive deserts of any state.

Related: Texas Has the Highest Maternal Mortality Rate in the Developed World. Why?

Nurx founder Hans Gangeskar said statistics show that his app is filling an unmet need there.

“Texas is our largest market every week,” Gangeskar said. “Texas is the biggest state with the highest number of sign-ups.”

The app offers a variety of brands of contraceptives, as well as Plan B and Ella, two types of morning-after pills that can be taken up to 72 hours after sex. Nurx (pronounced Nur-ex) also offers PrEP, an anti-HIV medication for reducing the risk of getting the virus.

Image: Oral contraceptive pills

Oral contraceptive pills can be purchased through Nurx without seeing a doctor in person.