In other news….

January 18, 2005

The morning after pill is up for consideration for over the counter sales again by the FDA. From CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is considering whether to make morning-after birth control available without a prescription, and like most issues that involve sex and pregnancy, it has generated heated debate.

Fierce arguments have gone on inside and outside the Food and Drug Administration, which may decide as soon as this week whether drug stores can sell the emergency contraception known as Plan B without a prescription to women age 16 and older.

Each side accuses the other of manipulating science for political purpose.


On one side of the arguement:

Plan B supporters say the pill is a safe way to prevent thousands of unwanted pregnancies and the abortions that sometimes follow. Making the contraception available over the counter, they say, is crucial for women who might need the protection over a weekend or when it is difficult to obtain a prescription.

Plan B can prevent pregnancy for up to 72 hours after sex. The sooner the pill is taken, the more effective it is.

and the other side:

Opponents worry that the drug encourages women — teenagers in particular — to have risky sex. If over-the-counter sales are permitted, older teenagers or adults might buy the pills for some of their younger friends or their sexual partners, critics say.

interestingly:

Not contested, by either side, is that the drug is safe or effective. Some who work for the FDA believed that questions about people’s sexual behavior were overwhelming scientific ones, according to an internal agency memo written last year.

Ok, reality check. So it’s not about whether or not the drug is safe (it is), but whether or not people, make that women, will fuck more. Well, what’s the problem? If it makes women more sexually active, GREAT!

Seriously though, women should have unrestricted access to anything they can use to avoid unwanted pregnancies. The opponents need to get a clue. People are going to have sex. This pill does not protect from diseases, and no one is claiming it does. Condoms should still be used.

The CNN article says that:

But the study, which only followed women for six months, found that the two groups had about the same pregnancy rate, undercutting the argument that Plan B prevents unwanted pregnancies and abortion.

However, this Princeton site says:

On average, if 100 women have unprotected intercourse once during the second or third week of their cycle, 8 will become pregnant. Following treatment with combined ECPs, 2 will become pregnant (a 75% reduction in the risk of pregnancy); Following treatment with progestin-only ECPs, 1 will become pregnant (a 89% reduction in the risk of pregnancy); Following emergency insertion of a copper IUD, the risk of pregnancy is reduced by more than 99%.

If a woman uses only emergency contraception for a year, and uses ECPs perfectly after every act of unprotected sex, then her annual risk of pregnancy would be about 38% with Preven and 19% with Plan B. ECPs when used perfectly are not as effective as other methods of ongoing contraception when used perfectly.

In other words, it ain’t pefect. But what is? It still seems to work, and is better than nothing at all.

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