Morning After Pill May Soon Be Available Without Prescription - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/16/03

Morning After Pill May Soon Be Available Without Prescription

On Tuesday, the federal government listened to arguments in a controversial debate over whether the morning after pill should be sold over the counter, which means that emergency contraception would be as accessible to teenagers as buying aspirin.

In this case, instead of being called the Morning After Pill, it's called Plan B, but it works the same, preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. It is already available, but only by prescription.

Now, proponents of the pill are asking the Food and Drug Administration to permit over-the-counter sales. A group representing the nations Ob-Gyns agrees that it should be easier to obtain.

"If you have to call your doctor, if you have to then go to the pharmacy, it can cause a loss of precious time, and one thing that we do know about the efficacy of this product is that the sooner you start using it, the better," explains Dr. Vivian Dickerson, president-elect of the American College of Ob/Gyns.

Plan B needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The concern has been that many women have trouble getting that prescription quickly, especially on weekends. Even so, opponents argue that it would promote promiscuity if anyone could buy this off pharmacy shelves, but perhaps the bigger issue is that some consider this a form of abortion.

"It does cause a fertilized egg to not attach to the wall, or to be detached from the wall, and we would consider that to be a form of abortion," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

On the other hand, women's groups told the FDA on Tuesday that this emergency contraception could prevent over a million unplanned pregnancies and hundreds of thousands of abortions. FDA officials says the pill has been proven safe by millions who have used it abroad.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to make its final decision by late February on whether Plan B should be sold without a prescription.

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