– by Allison Jones
CCHCC’s community organizing on women’s health issues has continued with the Campaign for Access to Emergency Contraception. Since it began in 2004, the Campaign for Access to Emergency Contraception has advocated for greater access to emergency contraception at the local, state, and federal levels.
Emergency contraception (EC) is a safe and effective form of back-up birth control that can prevent pregnancy when taken up to 120 hours, or 5 days, after unprotected sex, contraceptive failure, or sexual assault. EC can only prevent a pregnancy and will not cause an abortion. Because EC is more effective the sooner it is taken, timely access to the drug is essential.
In the fall of 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B, the brand name of EC, for sale over-the-counter for women 18 years of age and older. Women’s health activists had been advocating for over-the-counter EC for women of all ages for years, and this victory, although partial, was very important. Women who are 18 years of age can now access EC directly from a pharmacy without a prescription from a physician. Although EC is over-the-counter for this age group, women can only access EC from a pharmacist and must show proof of age in order to purchase it over-the-counter. The price of over-the-counter EC at the pharmacy is usually around $35 to $45. Women who are 17 years of age and younger are still required to get a prescription for EC from a physician and then get the prescription filled at a pharmacy. Many groups, including the Campaign for Access to Emergency Contraception, are continuing to advocate for over-the-counter access for EC for women of all ages. To learn more or to get involved, please contact Allison at (217) 352-6533 or email allison@HealthCareconsumers.org.