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Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration

Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception to Any Age

Posted by Tammi A. Tannura -

On May 24, 2013, a post was published on this blog about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanding access to emergency contraception to females 15 years of age and older without a prescription. New developments, however, have since emerged.

One June 10, 2013, the federal government reversed its decision to deny access to emergency contraception to females of any age. A judge in New York has been battling the federal government over this restriction for the last year. Recently, Plan B One-Step was made available to females age 15 and older without a prescription as long as the purchaser could provide proof of age. However, one of the judge's concerns of imposing such a requirement is that many females, particularly African-American and low income females, are less likely to have government issued identification. Consequently, requiring proof of age limited their access to this contraceptive option.

When Plan B One-Step without age restrictions will be available depends on Teva, the drug's manufacturer. Because packaging was already created for the medication for females 15 and older, a label stating that this product is now available to any age female is one solution being considered. Teva could not say when the product might be available. How and where it will be displayed in retail stores will be up to individual retailers.

Plan B One-Step greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after a sexual encounter. A female might decide to take emergency contraception when a condom breaks during intercourse, when there is failure to use other methods of contraception effectively (i.e. forget to take the birth control pill every day), or in the case of a sexual assault. Plan B has been available as a prescription emergency contraceptive since 1999.

The decision to lift the age restrictions for over-the-counter Plan B One-Step is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

 

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