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Emergency Contraception

Access to safe, reliable contraception is an essential part of basic health care.  A woman should have all the tools she needs to stay healthy and plan for her future and her family — including access to emergency contraception.

Emergency contraception, commonly referred to as the morning-after pill, is not the “abortion pill.”  By postponing ovulation before a pregnancy can occur, emergency contraception serves as a safe and effective birth control option when things don’t work out as planned. When a woman fears that she could become pregnant because her contraception failed or because she had unprotected sex, she needs fast, timely access to this backup birth control option.

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Until recently, emergency contraception has been kept behind pharmacy counters, which created barriers for women of all ages because pharmacies often have long lines and shorter operating hours.

This led the Food and Drug Administration to announce an important step forward in broadening access: Plan B One-Step will become available without a prescription for women 15 years of age and older.  By moving emergency contraception out from behind the pharmacy counter and making it available to those ages 15 and older with identification — more women will be able to prevent an unintended pregnancy.  However, the FDA's decision left some barriers to access that are not supported by science.

Planned Parenthood believes that access to emergency contraception should be expanded further — to women of all ages.  Research shows that teens are as likely as adults to use emergency contraception correctly.  They understand it is a backup to regular contraception and doesn’t protect against STI’s.

All unnecessary restrictions on emergency contraception should be lifted.  Expanding access is not only good policy, it’s good science and good sense.