Still No Plan B
August 29, 2005 - 11:15am ET
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Last Friday afternoon, the FDA announced that it will—for the third time—delay making a decision about emergency contraception (brand name Plan B) and over-the-counter availability. The reason for the delay this time is the same as previously: the "unique regulatory challenges" posed by a pharmaceutical that's used in cases where a woman has had sex—even if, in cases of rape and incest, that sex wasn't her choice.Take action now with NARAL Pro-Choice America and tell FDA Commissioner Crawford to let science prevail and make Plan B available to all women over the counter.
Regular TomPaine.com readers have heard this all before, from me in this blog and from our writers, but here's a roundup of the facts: Emergency contraception is not abortion. It cannot harm an existing pregnancy. It is safe and effective and has been proven so in study after study. Studies have also shown that just making emergency contraception available does not make women more likely to engage in promiscuous sex. And, most importantly, emergency contraception could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in the United States by many thousands every year.
So we're back to FDA commissioner Lester Crawford's hangups. He essentially wants to find a way to make sure older women could buy Plan B over the counter, while teenagers could not, even though the FDA's panel of experts recommended in Dec. 2003 that emergency contraception is safe for women and should be available for over the counter. Crawford is once again taking a matter of medical science and turning it into a matter of morality. And even if he prevails and the FDA limits over-the-counter sales to women older than 17, there's no reason a teenage girl seeking emergency contraception wouldn't be able to have an older friend or sister purchase the pills for her. This latest stall doesn't change anything. it just prevents the women who need emergency contraception now from getting it. And considering that state legistlatures have this year passed near-record numbers of bills limiting access to abortion, for women in many states, Plan B is very literally their last chance to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
For more information about emergency contraception, check out this great list of resources from Planned Parenthood. And to find out where and how you might currently be able to get Plan B, check out Not-2-Late.com or www.getthepill.com.
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