On May 9, 1960, the FDA approved the first oral contraceptive in the United States. Referred to as “the pill,” it greatly increased women’s ability to exercise control over their reproductive health.

Fifty-nine years later, the pill is the most commonly used form of non-permanent birth control, according to the Guttmacher Institute. At the same time, accessing it is challenging for many, as it is only available by prescription from a doctor—a process that can be financially untenable for the uninsured. As a movement grows among physicians and reproductive rights advocates to make the pill available over the counter, today (May 9) has been declared Free the Pill Day in support of that effort. 

The day was created by Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit that is working to submit an application to the United States Food and Drug Administration to make a birth control pill available over the counter. Per Planned Parenthood, wider availability would improve the reproductive health of women of color. Fifty-eight percent of women use the method for medical reasons other than contraception, and women of color are the most likely to do this:

Blocking access to birth control disproportionately affects women of color. Black women are more than three times as likely as White women to have uterine fibroids and non-White Hispanic women experience more severe polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms than women of other ethnic groups, so these women would be hit the hardest by attacks on access to birth control.

Supporters of Free the Pill Day are posting on social media today using the hashtag #FreeThePill: