Plan B safe, needed

By Becky O'Donoghue

Friday, August 24 marks the one-year anniversary of the FDA’s decision to approve Plan B emergency contraception for over-the-counter sales to women 18 and older. Plan B, or the morning after pill, can help prevent pregnancy if taken up to five days after unprotected sex, contraceptive failure or sexual assault. Plan B has been proven safe and effective and cannot cause an abortion.

The FDA’s decision made significant improvements in women’s access to emergency contraception, but more must be done. Over-the-counter Plan B is currently stocked behind pharmacy counters, and a government-issued ID is required to obtain it.

Even for those females over 18, these can be significant barriers – for women who do not have government ID, or who do not have an accessible 24-hour pharmacy, the current state of access to the drug may provide enough barriers to decrease its efficacy.

In addition, the drug has been proven safe for women of all reproductive ages, evidence of which was presented to the FDA last year. The access restrictions are based on pure politics, not sound science. Females under 18 are among the most vulnerable to unintended pregnancy, and real over-the-counter access to those girls, and to all women, is essential if we want to make real strides at decreasing the number of unintended pregnancies in this country.

I urge all those interested in this issue to help put pressure on the FDA to make real over-the-counter access a reality.

If you want more information or would like to get involved, please attend the next meeting of the Women’s Health Task Force on Sunday, September 9 at 6 p.m. at the Illinois Disciples Foundation (610 E. Springfield Ave., Champaign) or call 217-352-6533.

Becky O’Donoghue

Graduate student