Early one morning, a woman walks into a pharmacy in need
of Plan B. Plan A, a condom, as in so many human interactions,
went awry. The pharmacist, not concerned with her complications
with Plan A, provides some instructions, and soon she walks
out of the pharmacy with Plan B.
Plan B is known as the morning-after pill. It consists of
high doses of the ingredients found in birth control pills.
is only effective if used within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.
Plan B is not the same as the abortion pill, RU 486, because
it doesn’t work once a pregnancy has already been established.
The Food and Drug Administration found Plan B safe and effective
in 1999. The pill has an 89 percent pregnancy prevention rate,
which prevents 51,000 abortions annually. So, you’d think
antichoicers would jump to support it as an emergency contraceptive.
Guess what! This is the Bush Administration, and “morality” outweighs
science, women’s rights, and unwanted pregnancies.
In December 2003, an advisory committee for the FDA acted on
a request to switch Plan B from prescription to over the counter.
Women’s rights advocates had been pushing this change because
the drug needs to be taken so promptly after intercourse. Soon
after the decision, 44 Congressional Republicans sent the FDA
a letter of outrage concerning the accessibility of the drug.
Among other things, the letter stated that the contraceptive
is, “stacked casually on shelves next to the toothpaste
and cough drops,” as if this were a bad thing (apparently
congressmen thought it would promote promiscuity). When the committee
didn’t reverse its decision, the Republicans sent another
letter to the FDA, this time expressing panic about “the
impact the decision will have on sexual behavior of adolescents.” The
FDA committee postponed the decision on February 16, saying it
needed more data, particularly on the drug’s influence
on and use by teenagers.
Supporters of the change are outraged saying the ruling is
becoming more political rather than scientific. Plan B mainly
the implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb. Gloria Feltd,
head of Planned Parenthood explains, “Antichoice people
are trying to redefine pregnancy to begin at fertilization rather
than implantation,” which is medically defined as pregnancy.
Studies have shown that the morning-after pill is most commonly
used by women between the ages of 18-24. There isn’t much
of a difference between using the morning-after pill and the
birth control pill or the patch, to which antichoicers do not
object, at least so far. If teenagers shouldn’t be encouraged
to use the pill without a parent’s knowledge, then they
shouldn’t be able to get hold of birth control either
without parental permission, as the current law allows. Furthermore,
if using this contraception evokes loose morals within young
women, what about condoms promoting loose morals in young men?
Why not make condoms available only by prescription also? This
is not abortion. This is a preventive measure-no pregnancy
Any woman with the right kind of birth control can package her
own Plan B and share it,” said Katha Pollitt, journalist
for The Nation, “Until women can pick up Plan B along
with, yes, aspirin and hairspray, that ingenuity and boldness
what we need.”