Emergency Contraception OTC: It’s Time


Women, in particular women of color, were critical in getting Obama re-elected. It’s time we and they got something in return.

Female in silhouette: "Why yes, we did help you get elected." Additional text: 1 in 3 people experience barriers in accessing EC. Fix that. Emergency contraception needs to be in our hands.

If you’re in the U.S., go sign this petition from the Reproductive Health Technologies Project to push for that thing to be over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. If you need to know why, keep reading.

From the petition site itself, some background:

In December of 2011, the FDA was prepared to make emergency contraception accessible to consumers without restriction, based on more than a decade of medical research and policy debates. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA, putting politics ahead of women’s health. Her decision created unnecessary confusion for women and couples at a moment when clarity and timing matter most. EC works best when taken within 72 hours and her ruling means many Americans are facing unnecessary obstacles. Women without identification, like some immigrants or women who don’t drive, cannot obtain the product. Men have been denied access as some pharmacists impose their personal beliefs on consumers. Doctors have been given misleading or false information when calling pharmacies on behalf of teen patients.

Most importantly, no evidence suggests that making emergency contraception accessible leads to risky behavior among teens. What it does do is give teens a second chance to prevent and unintended pregnancy so they can stay in school. Medical experts, from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to the New England Journal of Medicine, a former U.S. Surgeon General, and many others agree EC should be on-the-shelf and accessible without restriction.

Emergency contraception is a safe, effective back-up method of birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. A woman is healthiest when she can decide the timing and spacing of her pregnancies. Let’s ensure that any woman who needs EC can get it safely and quickly.

This is one of those situations perfect for a strong petition push. This was entirely a political decision, done through the executive branch, and it does not require any legislative review to reverse. This decision was made by Sebelius against the recommendation of the FDA. Everything but her political will (and presumably that of the president she serves) points to over-the-counter birth control being an excellent idea.

There are a large number of politically motivated women who are upset over attempts to deny them access to birth control, and plenty of men who support that accessibility as well. If we push this petition, there is no reason we won’t get lots of signatures. With those signatures and years of advocacy under their belts, the RHTP are in an excellent position to bring political pressure to bear on this problem.

Don’t pass this petition by. Sign it and pass it on. Blog it if you have the space. Take your choice of graphics and messages that will reach others who need to sign.

We were active in the election because of issues like this. Let’s keep that going.

Comments

  1. redpanda says

    Do you have a citation for the EC access and risky behavior claim in the background? I couldn’t find anything on PubMed, but I don’t have a lot of time at the moment and it might just be that my PubMed-fu is lacking.

  2. says

    Yes! I was so disappointed by the decision to keep it behind the counter. Because it is so time sensitive, it should be available in fucking bathroom vending machines next to tampons and condoms. People should be able to get it so cheaply and conveniently that they can keep it in their medicine cabinets right next to the advil. Every high school in the country should have them scattered on the damn floor. :)

    Also, we need to spread the meme far and wide that EC is not an abortion pill. You would not believe the number of pro-choice people that believe it is or could be, thus leaving an out for pharmacists and their conscience clauses.

  3. fastlane says

    Is it possible to get EC and just hold on to it if it’s needed? I realize, like everything, it has a shelf life, but this at least seems like a reasonable alternative until it’s available OTC.

  4. says

    If I understand the rules correctly, yes, in the US you can get EC before you would actually need it, but it seems to depend on which pharmacy and state you end up in. Understanding of the rules, as well as the personal beliefs of the pharmacist may vary. Best bet is to get it from Planned Parenthood or similar women’s health orgs because they encourage you to have some around just in case. I’m not sure, but a doctor’s reccomendation would help too. Anybody know more than I do in my half-asleep state?

    If anyone needs help financially getting it, PM me and I’ll paypal you the cost. I can only afford one, but I want to help.

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