Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court issued a ruling that essentially removes age restrictions for the Plan B One-Step emergency contraception (EC) product. In its ruling, the court ordered the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Food and Drug Administration to issue regulations allowing over-the-counter sale of this EC product to anyone, regardless of age.
Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) commended the decision.
Prior to the ruling, a doctor’s prescription was required for girls under 17 years of age to access emergency contraceptives, or more popularly known as the “morning after” pill.
In a statement about the decision, AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP explains “Unintended pregnancies pose a significant risk to the physical and emotional health of adolescents. While pediatricians recommend that teens delay sexual activity until they fully understand its consequences, we strongly encourage the use of contraception – including emergency contraception – protect the health of our adolescent patients who are sexually active.”
Supporters of the ruling claim it reflects overwhelming scientific evidence that emergency contraception is safe and effective for any woman of reproductive age. Sharon Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, cites that 82% of all teen pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
Plan B was initially approved for over-the-counter sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but was overruled by Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. District judge Edward R. Korman, who issued the ruling, slammed the Obama Administration for “…a strong showing of bad faith and improper political influence.”
It’s unclear yet whether the administration will appeal the ruling.
Products like Plan B One-Step can reduce the risk of pregnancy up to 120 hours following unprotected intercourse or failure of a contraceptive like a condom. However, emergency contraceptives are most effective if they’re used in the first 24 hours.
Emergency contraceptives are essentially high-powered birth control pills that deliver a large dose of the progesterone hormone. It works by delaying ovulation or preventing an egg from being implanted in the uterus.
We of course recommend and strongly encourage teen girls delay sexual activity until adulthood to prevent pregnancy. This is by far the best choice from several perspectives.
However, Plan B emergency contraception can provide a level of relief if unprotected sexual activity does occur, or if another type of contraceptive fails.
If you’re looking for a more consistent, long-term birth control option, specialists at Gainesville’s All About Women can guide you on the best option – there are of course pills you can take daily or weekly, or you can consider more permanent birth control options like Essure that are hormone-free.
To discuss your birth control needs in a safe, caring environment, please contact our location in Gainesville or Lake City to schedule an appointment today.