A new study conducted by the Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine and published in the journal Pediatrics has uncovered a truly disturbing trend: teens are being given false information about the legality and availability of the morning-after pill (also known as Plan B), quite possibly on purpose, by their pharmacists. What the what?!
First, the facts about the Plan B’s legality/availability: teenagers 17 and older are allowed to purchase the morning-after pill without a prescription; teens under 17 are able to acquire it but need a doctor’s prescription. However, the study found that when researchers posing as teens under the age of 17 called their pharmacy to inquire about getting Plan B, many were told that they were not legally allowed access to it or were given misinformation about how they could get it — but when researchers posing as doctors called back asking for the same information, the pharmacists suddenly had their facts straight. Keep reading »
This is a sad story that underscores how the age requirement on the morning-after pill doesn’t work: a math teacher in Austin, Texas, resigned after she was caught having helped a student acquire the morning-after pill. Two weeks ago, a 16-year-old came to her teacher, Tracy Lee Steinberg, 32, in tears and told her she was afraid that she was pregnant. Steinberg told the student she had a bright future and that she would help the 16-year-old get the morning-after pill, which is only available over-the-counter without a prescription for women ages 17 and up. Steinberg got money for the Plan B from the student and the student’s boyfriend, purchased it at a Planned Parenthood, and the student took it.
But when the student started experiencing normal side effects of Plan B like nausea, the student — surely in fear — told her mother she’d taken the morning-after pill and that Steinberg had gotten it for her. The mother called the school district and the administrators notified Steinberg she’d be put on leave. Instead, Steinberg offered to resign. Keep reading »
Taking the morning-after pill in a timely fashion has been one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when it comes to reproductive rights. Emergency contraception (which prevents ovulation so an egg cannot be fertilized, as well as thins the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg cannot be implanted) is most effective if taken within five days of unprotected sex — but the sooner the better. Even though EC, in theory, became more accessible when the FDA announced it could be sold over-the-counter to women age 17 and up, that did not play out in reality. Women who live in rural areas, as well as women who live anyplace where a pharmacist can cite a so-called conscience clause and tell her “no, not dispensing that!”, still have to do a lot of frantic scrambling at an already stressful time.
But one college in Pennsylvania has a brilliant idea on how to make EC more accessible when it is needed most: Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, put a vending machine filled with Plan B in the health center. Keep reading »
Fact checking time! Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail in Colorado last night and referred to emergency contraception/the morning-after pill as “abortive pills.” This could be because he or his team genuinely doesn’t understand that emergency contraception (Plan B) and the abortion pill (RU-486) are two completely different pills. Or it could be because he’s irresponsibly trying to totally conflate the two for political gain, which I am sure would shock — shock! — you coming from an anti-abortion politician. (Is Mitt anti-abortion this week? I can never keep track!)
Let’s recap, very briefly: The morning-after pill prevents a pregnancy by stopping a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs — which could be fertilized by the sperm and go implant in the uterus — as well as thinning the lining of a woman’s uterus so a fertilized egg cannot implant. The RU-486 abortion pill, on the other hand, ends an existing pregnancy — as in, the fertilized egg has already implanted in the uterus and a fetus is growing. (I explain it all in more detail in this post.)
See? Two different things, Mitt. Keep reading »
This is not the change I voted for. Nor how I thought the year would end for women’s rights in the USA. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius recently overruled scientists at the Federal Drug Administration and blocked a move to allow for Plan B emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill, to be sold over-the-counter without age restriction. Her rationale was to protect 11-year-old girls from taking something that might harm them. President Obama backed her up, asked us to use “common sense” and pulled the daddy card.
Well, I’m pulling the mommy card. Keep reading »
I knew I shouldn’t get my hopes up: the Secretary of Health and Human Services (a woman!) has overruled the FDA’s recommendation to allow the morning-after pill to be sold on drugstore shelves without a prescription. If Plan B is taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it is almost 90 percent effective in preventing a pregnancy. The sooner emergency contraception is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is. Keep reading »
Conservatives losing their marbles to start in five … four … three … two … one: the FDA has until tomorrow to decide whether the morning-after pill Plan B will be available on drugstore shelves (as opposed to behind the counter) without a prescription for anyone of any age. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B is almost 90 percent effective in preventing a pregnancy. The sooner Plan B is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is. Keep reading »