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FDA Silent on Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception

Despite the fact that emergency contraception (EC) is extremely safe and the American Medical Association has advocated to make them available over the counter, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to respond to a Citizens Petition filed last year by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) requesting over-the-counter EC. Currently, Washington and California are the only states that allow women to obtain EC over-the-counter, and some pharmacies have outright refused to fill prescriptions for EC pills (Wal-Mart, among others). Three states, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia, are now considering legislation to make EC over-the-counter.

EC has the ability to prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, which comprise 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. EC can prevent pregnancy in cases of unprotected intercourse, birth control failure, and sexual assault, if taken within 72 hours.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a campaign to increase access to emergency contraception and mifepristone (the early abortion pill) on college campuses nationwide. To find out more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.

Sources:

Center for Reproductive Law and Policy Press Release, 2/14/02; Not-2-Late.com, Princeton University & Association of Reproductive Health Professionals; Feminist Majority Foundation

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