Feminist activists on campuses and in communities across the country will participate tomorrow in the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Day of Action for Emergency Contraception Over the Counter (EC OTC) by collecting petitions to make emergency contraception available over the counter. Emergency contraception is a concentrated dose of birth control hormones that is up to 95% effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, contraception failure, or rape. Emergency contraception could prevent nearly half of the unintended pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions by 800,000 in the United States alone, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Despite this drug’s incredible potential to advance women’s reproductive health care, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that only 1 in 5 US women knows about EC. So-called “conscience clauses” permit doctors and pharmacists to refuse to prescribe or dispense emergency contraception, further restricting women’s access to this important drug. Princeton University’s Office of Population Research reports that women are not routinely offered EC after being sexually assaulted, according to the Associated Press. Over the counter status would make emergency contraception easily and quickly accessible to all women in the United States. “Requiring a visit to the doctor for a medication that is safer than aspirin or Tylenol makes no sense. Women have to be aware that this is out there and they have to get it in their medicine cabinets, just like bandages, before they need it,” stated Dr. Anita L. Nelson of the UCLA School of Medicine to WebMD Medical News.
Feminist activists participating in FMF’s year-long Emergency Contraception Over the Counter campaign educate their communities on emergency contraception and collect petitions to send to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in support of making emergency contraception available over the counter.