Making Plan B Plan A

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It's sad that we must talk about underage sex, but wrong to ignore reality:

WASHINGTON - A top federal health official rejected a Democratic accusation Thursday that politics were getting in the way of a decision on whether to permit sales of the morning-after contraceptive pill without a prescription.

Andrew Von Eschenbach, the Food and Drug Administration's acting director, appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee to go over the agency's budget. But much of the Democrats' questioning concerned the FDA's evaluation of the morning-after contraceptive pill, known as Plan B. They say the agency has had more than enough time to reach a decision.

Supporters of over-the-counter sales say ready access to the pill could reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion, but some conservatives fear it would increase teen sex and promiscuity.

The FDA rejected over-the-counter sales in May 2004, telling Barr Laboratories that there wasn't evidence that teens younger than 16 could safely use the drug without a doctor's guidance. Barr resubmitted its proposal but included age limits: Females 16 or older could buy it without a prescription, but younger teens would continue to need a doctor's note.

A high dose of regular birth control, the morning-after-pill can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The sooner it's taken, the better it works.
The key here is unprotected sex. The pill is not a supplement to regular contraception. It should only be used in emergencies when there's a higher risk of pregnancy. But the ultimate question is: will it encourage couples to engage in unprotected sex when they know she can just pop a pill and call it a day?

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