A new study finds that access to emergency contraception has improved since the 2006 ruling by the FDA allowing the morning after pill to be sold without a prescription to women 18 and older. The FDA approved prescription-only sales of the morning-after pill or “Plan B” in 1999, but attempts to make the drug available without a prescription were blocked by opponents who argued that this move could lead to increased promiscuity among teenagers.
The study focused on pharmacies in three major cities: Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Boston, all of which were surveyed in both 2006 and 2007. Researchers found that since 2006, the percentages of refusals and delays in dispensing the drug have decreased, according to the Associated Press. Since Plan B works best when taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex, delays in procurement reduce the drug’s effectiveness. Plan B is a high dose of progesterone that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs or delays their release, but will not terminate an existing pregnancy.
Lead researcher Dr. Rebekah E. Gee from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine told Reuters that “only through increased access to more effective methods of contraception and by empowering women to be educated about their reproductive health will we likely see a change in unintended pregnancy rates.” Currently, the US has the highest rate of unplanned pregnancies in the industrial world.