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Feminist News


April-21-03

Request Filed for Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception

Women's Capital Corporation, makers of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, submitted their request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today to make Plan B available over the counter. The FDA is expected to make a decision in about 10 months, according to the Washington Post.

The United States has the highest rate of unintended pregnancies in the industrialized world, said Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Since emergency contraception has the potential to prevent half of these pregnancies, the scientific imperative is clear: emergency contraception must be available over the counter. Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, failed contraception, or rape. It is safer than aspirin, meets all of the FDAs requirements for over the counter status, and is up to 95% effective if used within the first 24 hours. Emergency contraception has the potential to prevent 800,000 abortions in the United States annually.

Although emergency contraception is currently available with a prescription, many women face significant obstacles in obtaining it. Women at James Madison University in Virginia, for example, can no longer access emergency contraception at the campus health center, according to the Associated Press. The universitys board of visitors voted to stop dispensing emergency contraception after receiving a complaint from a state delegate.

Emergency contraception is very time sensitive, stated Dr. Jordan. Women must be able to access emergency contraception immediately after unprotected sex. Emergency contraceptions unwarranted prescription status prevents women from doing so.

TAKE ACTION Tell the FDA to make emergency contraception available over the counter.

Media Resources: Washington Post 4/21/03; Associated Press 4/19/03