As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to stall approval of over-the-counter access for Plan B, a form of emergency contraception (EC), states across the country have begun to legislate the issue for themselves. The Washington Post ran a piece today examining the trend, which includes 60 bills nationwide that aim to affect women’s access to EC. Nine states currently allow pharmacy access to the medication without a prescription, and states such as Illinois require pharmacies to stock the drug or provide referrals. Furthermore, some states have legislated to require hospitals to provide EC as an option to sexual assault survivors. Vivion Maisenbacher of Barr Laboratories (the maker of Plan B) told the Post, “I think it’s a tide that can’t be stopped… I think we’ll see a state or two each year joining the ranks, and will soon have a majority of women having access through pharmacies.”
Other states, however, are attempting to legally protect pharmacists’ right to refuse to dispense the medication, or in the case of New Hampshire, requiring parental notification. Some anti-choice activists and politicians falsely claim that EC, essentially a high dosage of traditional birth control bills, can induce early abortions. In fact, EC is safer than aspirin, meets all of the FDA’s requirements for over-the-counter status, and is up to 95 percent effective if used within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or sexual assault.