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ACOG President Suggests Advance Prescriptions for Emergency Contraceptives

In the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. Thomas F. Purdon, the College’s incoming president, urged the 40,000 obstetricians-gynecologists practicing in the U.S. to routinely offer patients an advance prescription for emergency contraceptive (EC) pills. Providing women with advance prescriptions for EC pills would make preventing pregnancy in the event of unprotected sex easier and faster. Currently only Washington State offers women EC pills over the counter, all other states require a prescription.

Emergency contraceptives are high-dose birth control pills taken within 72 hours of intercourse that prevent fertilization or the implantation of a fertilized egg. They have been available in the U.S. with a prescription since 1998, and are widely available over-the-counter in Europe. Reproductive health experts believe that wider access to emergency contraceptives could cut the U.S. unwanted pregnancy rate in half.

U.S. and Canadian studies show that providing women with advance prescriptions for EC pills actually reduces the medical costs associated with an unwanted pregnancy far more than giving women one dose of EC after unprotected sex.

Sources:

Kaiser Family Foundation Ð May 1, 2001; Associated Press Ð April 30, 2001