Thursday, October 12, 2006

Emergency Contraception for those under 18

Student blogger Kirti Shah comments on a previous post re emergency contraception:

Recently the Government of Chile announced that they are going to provide emergency contraception to any one over 14 at no cost. What a revolutionary idea from a Catholic country. We in the U.S. now have made it available over the counter to anyone over 18 but they still have to pay. This was blocked on political grounds ( religious grounds) a number of times by questioning its safety ( rejecting all the evidence) and the usual abortion arguments.

The current law permits the pharmacist to sell it to anyone over 18. Any person over 18 can then give it to a person under 18 but a pharmacist cannot. This makes the pharmacist a policeman and potentially liable in case of some kind of a mistake. This can potentially introduce a third party in the distribution chain. We need to change this law to accommodate any minor and this would at the very least allow a health professional to advise the patient on the proper use of this medication.. The “ morning after” pill has a 89% efficacy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex and is more effective if taken in the first 24 hours. Reducing the waiting time should be of utmost importance.

We should clarify what emergency contraception is. It is a backup method of preventing pregnancy or reducing chances of pregnancy after unprotected sex. Examples of unprotected sex would be a broken condom, if one forgot to take birth control pill for 2 or more days ( which happens a lot) , or if one was sexually assaulted. Plan B is not RU-486 ( the abortion pill) because plan B is used to prevent pregnancy. It will not work if you are already pregnant and it will not affect an existing pregnancy. Plan B is also safe and it is a larger dose of normal birth control pill. Plan B will decrease the chances of pregnancy by 89% if taken within the first 72 hours of unprotected sex. It works better if taken within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex. When birth control pills first came out their doses were very high almost similar to plan B.

Arguments have been and will be used against plan B with misleading and false arguments and a conscious effort has to be made to educate the public. Condoms were once sold behind the counter and today they are available all over and serve a useful purpose. We cannot deny services to people who need it using false arguments and we need to loosen up the law that will free up the pharmacist or any other health care professional to be able to provide these services in good faith.

1 comment:

bob koepp said...

I agree with almost everything Kirti Shah says, so I hope I can be forgiven for repeating things I've said before about emergency contraception.

First, even 18-years+ women in the USA still don't have what traditionally has been called over the counter access -- not as long as EC can only be obtained from pharmacists. Like the FDA panels that assessed the safety and efficacy of self-administration of Plan B, I don't believe there is a need for "professional counseling" on its proper use. De-medicalization of EC (and I think non-emergency contraception, as well) is needed if women are to exercise "real" control over their reproduction.