Consumers rally for birth control

By Nick Escobar

The Champaign County Health Care Consumers are holding a community meeting today at the Illinois Disciples Foundation, 610 E. Springfield Ave ., from 7 to 9 p.m. in support of improved access for women to emergency contraception.

Destiny Lopez, director of the Emergency Contraception (E.C.) Access Campaign, will be the night’s keynote speaker. Lopez has been instrumental in helping to raise awareness about E.C. and to pass several bills in the New York legislature dealing with E.C. access.

She will speak on the topics of E.C. availability and its impact on the local campaign, according to the Champaign County Health Care Consumers Web site. Lopez also will provide a strategic layout for preventing unwanted pregnancies.

“We’re hoping to boost our efforts here (in Champaign County),” said Brooke Anderson, community organizer with the Champaign County Health Care Consumers. “We want to provide people with more information so they can get easy access. They shouldn’t have to play ‘beat-the-clock.'”

The Champaign County Health Care Consumers have compiled a survey of the pharmacies in Champaign County that carry E.C. and will release the information today at the meeting. Only eight pharmacies in Champaign County carry E.C., Anderson said. An additional eight pharmacies will order it upon request, Anderson said, but shipping often takes several days – too long for E.C. to be effective.

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“They may be opposed to it for different reasons,” Anderson said, such as religious reasons.

Part of the Champaign County Health Care Consumers’ goal is to get legislation passed that would make E.C. available at all Champaign County emergency rooms for sexual assault victims. A doctor also will be on hand during the rally to write prescriptions for E.C.

“It’s easy to get it on campus because they have it at McKinley (Health Center),” Anderson said. “But what if you’re home for break? It’s better to have it (the prescription) than not.”

E.C., also known by the brand name Plan B, is available only with a physician’s prescription. The Champaign County Health Care Consumers hope to get Plan B sold over the counter, therefore making it more available to women who need it.

“Say a woman has unprotected sex on Friday night or is sexually assaulted,” Anderson said. “The doctor’s office is closed until Monday and E.C. is much more effective the sooner you take it.”

Plan B only works for five days after intercourse has occurred and does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Anderson also stressed that E.C. should not be used as a main form of birth control.

“You don’t want to take it regularly,” Anderson said. “It costs between $19 and $32 a prescription, and the side effects include nausea and headaches.”

The Champaign County Health Care Consumers are also holding a benefit show on March 5.