U.S. should allow access to 'Plan B'

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2003

If ever there was a plan B nation, it would be America.

So it should have been the first to embrace giving women access to Plan B, the aptly named emergency contraceptive drug.

Instead, the United States is now trying to determine whether it should become the 34th nation in the world, behind Britain, France and Sweden, to allow sale of the drug without a prescription. A panel of scientific advisers recommended Tuesday that the FDA make Plan B available without a prescription. Now the FDA must decide whether to accept the recommendation. ...

The FDA has already determined that the emergency contraceptive, which has been used by more than 2.4 million women, is very safe. Plan B is sold without a doctor's prescription at selected pharmacies in California and four other states. ...

The sooner it is used, the more effective it is. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the drug cuts the risk of pregnancy by 89 percent.

Research indicates that Plan B could prevent some 1.7 million unwanted pregnancies and 700,000 abortions in the United States.

Women deserve the right to prevent unwanted pregnancies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just when pharmacists are available to dispense the drug.

Dec. 17

San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

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