In what is considered a debatable move by many, the Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved Plan B One-Step, one of three available emergency contraceptives on the market, for use by women 15 and over with a prescription. The approval does not cover access to Plan B and ella, the two other emergency contraceptives on the market. Outside of moral debates, there seems to be two major components of the approval that people take issue with. First, the pills are available to those as young as 15. As the FDA points out however:
” “Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease.”
Second, the pill will be available in stores with an onsite pharmacy, but will be available on the shelves themselves whether or not a pharmacist is present. This could worry some, yet it doesn’t mean that underage youth could purchase Plan B One-Step as the box will read “not for sale to those under 15 years of age *proof of age required* not for sale where age cannot be verified,” and ID will hopefully be checked at check out. Also, we must be realistic here and take note that if a young girl under 15 was to need Emergency Contraceptives, anyone over the age of 15 could get her that medication. This might make some suggest that prescriptions should be needed entirely for this type of drug, however we must understand that for many getting a prescription is not as simple as making a doctor’s appointment. There are issues of poverty, lack of insurance, limited transportation, fear, cultural and religious barriers to getting such a prescription from a physician and many other issues at play.
Ultimately this is a big move for the expansion of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States, and eliminates many of the socioecomonic and emotional factors that could otherwise contribute to limited emergency contraception access and unwanted pregnancies.
Written By Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer