Women under 20-years old in western England will be able to obtain emergency contraception (EC) for free at Tesco, a British supermarket chain. The National Health Service and the North Somerset Teenage Pregnancy Clinic will also give these young women information about contraception and reproductive health. The joint initiative is the latest effort to lower the number of teenage pregnancies in England.
EC is already available to all women over-the-counter in England for a fee. Women can also obtain EC for free with a prescription, but many opt to buy EC over-the-counter to avoid waiting for a doctor’s appointment. EC must be used within 72-hours of intercourse to be effective.
In the U.S., EC is available over-the-counter in only two states, and while the American Medical Association has supported over-the-counter EC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to respond to a Citizens Petition filed last year by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) requesting over-the-counter status. EC has the ability to prevent millions of unintended pregnancies in the U.S., about 48 percent of all pregnancies. Among young people, the rate of unintended pregnancies is even higher. Four of every five pregnancies experienced by teenagers are unintended. The U.S.-based Women’s Capitol Corporation, distributor of the EC Plan B, is expected to apply to the FDA for approval of over-the-counter EC this summer.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a campaign to make EC over-the-counter and increase access on college campuses nationwide. To find out more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.