The Pentagon will begin providing emergency contraception (EC) at US military base health facilities worldwide, the Department of Defense announced yesterday. The change is a result of a recommendation from the Pentagon’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which voted in November 2009 that both Plan B and generic Next Choice should be included on the basic core formulary, a list of medications that are required to be stocked at all military health facilities, according to the Washington Post.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, (NARAL Pro-Choice America Press Release 2/4/2010) stated in a press release: “I firmly believe that this decision marks an end to the political intrusion of the previous administration that blocked military women from having this guaranteed access. It’s a tragedy that women in uniform have been denied such basic health care. We applaud the medical experts for standing up for military women.”
EC is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use. EC does not terminate an existing pregnancy.