In a move that has caused a nationwide conversation, yesterday (April 30) the FDA approved the use of Plan B One-Step without a prescription for women 15 and older. Prior to this, Teva Women’s Health Inc. had submitted a request last year to make this morning after pill available over the counter to women of all ages but that was denied. After this decision was made, the request was amended and submitted for review once again, only this time asking that the medication would be over-the-counter for women 15-years-old and older.
For teens who are worried about seeing a doctor or using their parents insurance, this new ruling comes as a relief. For those who believe that the EC is commonly misused or encourages underage sexual activity, the decision is troublesome.
The FDA will require age verification upon the sale of the medication but it will now be available in the family planning area of the pharmacy. This also helps make it available right away since the morning after pill may be purchased outside of the normal onsite pharmacy hours. Because the medication is time sensitive, this helps increase the effectiveness for many as well.
In a press release made public yesterday, this is the stance the FDA has taken on why a 15-year-old should have unrestricted access to the morning after pill:
“Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease.”
Based on several studies, 15 is the age that girls can understand the consequences and risks associated with sexual activity.
As anticipated, there are nearly as many advocates as their are proponents of the new rule.
One roadblock that some teens may face in purchasing Plan B is the age verification factor. Since 15-year-olds are not yet able to drive, they must provide another form of ID aside from a license. A passport will work but that’s assuming that the teen has one. A birth certificate may be answer to this as well.
While many advocates do believe this is a step in the right direction toward reproductive freedom, they would still like to see the morning after pill made available to women of all ages.