16 August 2013
Plan B: Helping Prevent Unintended Pregnancies The topic of sex is often eye opening for all parents, reminding them that their kids are not children anymore but rather young adults ready to make decisions on their own. Over a decade long conversations about the accessibility and over the counter (OTC) sale of emergency contraception, also known as Plan B, finally ended this spring. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled that Plan B should be sold in pharmacies without prescriptions and without any age restriction. This ruling is stirring up controversy by questioning the decision making capabilities of young adults, especially young women, and putting them under the scrutiny of many conservative groups, who are arguing that teens using Plan B lack the ability to make educated choices about their reproductive health. On the other side, proponents are not only advocating for young adults and their right to choose but would also like them to have an easy accessible back up form of contraception to prevent them from becoming parents if their primary form of contraception fails. Based on the information from Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, it is safe to say that the benefits of emergency contraception outweigh the risks: “ The scientific evidence is clear: EC (emergency contraception) is safe by all standards. In fact, more than 60 health and medical groups have declared that EC is ‘safer than aspirin.’ While EC’s risks are negligible, its major potential benefit—prevention of untended pregnancy—is substantial. The consequences of unintended pregnancy are numerous and can be severe” ("UCSF Bixby Center…”). Having Plan B available and easily accessible will not only help to reduce the number of unintended teen pregnancies but will also help lower the number of teen abortions.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides a clear explanation of what Plan B is and how it works. FDA is referring to Plan B as an emergency contraceptive that is safe and effective for women of any reproductive age. It is intended to reduce the possibility of pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse, and is mostly effective if taken within 72 hours of intercourse (“FDA Approves Plan B”). The most common side effects in the clinical trial for women receiving Plan B included heavier menstrual bleeding, nausea, lower abdominal pain, fatigue and headache; Plan B will not end pregnancy when a woman is already pregnant, and there is no medical evidence that the pill could harm a fetus according to FDA’s article “FDA Approves Plan B.” Plan B works as an emergency contraceptive by preventing ovulation or fertilization and that it can help hinder the implantation (“FDA Approves Plan B”). Based on the information that FDA provided, one has to agree that OTC access to Plan B is safe back up birth control option in case of unprotected sex or failure of primary birth control. Information obtained from the analysis written for The Guttmacher Institute by Rachel Benson Gold states: “According to both the scientific community and long-standing federal policy, a woman is considered pregnant only when a fertilized egg has implanted in the wall of her uterus”; based on this information, it is important to note that Plan B is not an abortion pill.
In order to inform teens, prepare them for the adulthood, and prevent unintended pregnancies, sex education has been implemented in most public schools throughout the country. While some states concentrate on giving teens a range of information about contraception and use of condoms while teaching abstinence, other states solely concentrate on abstinence as being the main focus of the sex education. New Mexico and Mississippi, states with highest teen pregnancy and birth rates, do not require sex education in schools; and when taught there are either no requirements within the curriculum, or abstinence-only teaching is promoted (Kost , K., and S. Henshaw).