The Trump administration and conservatives in Congress are driving a health care agenda that, among many negative consequences, threatens affordable birth control access for tens of millions of U.S. women. Their plans include undermining the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) guaranteed coverage of contraceptive methods and services with no out-of-pocket costs, gutting the Title X national family planning program, and excluding Planned Parenthood from Medicaid and other federal programs.

Going after birth control access is deeply unpopular, which is why conservatives pushing for it routinely fall back on a set of talking points touting alternate ways for people to obtain contraceptive care, namely: to make birth control pills available without a prescription and to help people pay for them through tax-advantaged savings vehicles like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). However, people should beware these false promises because, as replacements for current programs and policies, they would leave most contraceptive users with fewer options and a bigger hit to their finances.

To be sure, making birth control pills available over the counter (OTC) would improve access for some groups of people by eliminating the barrier of having to see a doctor to get a prescription. This is why the Guttmacher Institute is part of a coalition working toward this goal. But lifting the prescription requirement for birth control pills is utterly inadequate as a replacement for current policies. Here’s why:

Making birth control pills available OTC could be an important part of broader efforts to bolster access to high-quality, affordable contraceptive care. But it all has to start with protecting and building on the progress we’ve already made. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Ayanna Pressley are introducing a bill that would take one step forward, by making it clear that insurers must cover contraceptives even without a prescription. Beyond that, let’s make sure that all contraceptive methods are fully covered by every form of public and private insurance, everyone has health insurance in the first place, publicly supported family planning providers and the programs that underpin their work are protected and, ultimately, everyone can freely use the contraceptive method that works best for them.