Should emergency contraception be as easy to get as aspirin or Tums? Comment below.
I walked 10 miles and visited 13 stores to see how hard it is to get emergency contraception.
It’s supposed to be an over-the-counter drug, like aspirin.
Mother Jones – “You need a prescription for this,” the pharmacist at CVS tells me when I appear at her counter with a box of Plan B One-Step.
Even though the product is displayed on an open shelf next to pregnancy tests and packages of condoms, it’s packaged in a plastic container requiring store assistance to remove.
I ask why the emergency contraception is held in this kind of a case, and her response about the necessity of a prescription is emphatic.
But she’s wrong.
I smile, thank her, and put it back on the shelf. But if Plan B were a prescription medication, it would not be so physically accessible.
Since 2013, what once was known as the “morning-after pill”—contraception to be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex to avoid pregnancy—has been an over-the-counter medication free of restrictions, much like aspirin or Tums.
She was the sixth pharmacist with whom I spoke about purchasing emergency contraception in my quest to learn firsthand what obstacles exist in accessing a health care product that should be readily available.
I walked 10 miles and visited 13 stores in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia in an unscientific attempt to see how easy it would be to obtain this emergency contraception.
What I discovered reflected what the research has shown: Access, even in an area as relatively liberal as the Washington metropolitan region, is neither uniform nor predictable, because each store has very different policies on where and if they choose to sell emergency contraception.
The FDA first approved Plan B in 1999, and a follow-up product, Plan B One-Step, in 2009.
But in 2005 the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the Food and Drug Administration for failing to grant over-the-counter status to Plan B “against the advice of scientific experts,” and won. Read more.
About “Plan B”
WebMD – Levonorgestrel is a hormone that can be used for emergency contraception. Emergency contraception should not be used as a routine method of birth control.
Levonorgestrel can be purchased over the counter at drugstores without a prescription or proof of age.
Levonorgestrel can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. People sometimes call it the “morning after pill.”
But you don’t have to wait until the morning after sex to take it. In fact, levonorgestrel is more effective the sooner you take it.
It is a one-dose regimen: you take one pill. The pill contains 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel, which is used in lower doses in many birth control pills … Read more.