Illinois action blog

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Increased Access to EC for 17-Year-Old Women

Yesterday the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced the decision that it will allow 17-year-old women to purchase emergency contraception (EC) over-the-counter without a prescription. This decision is in line with a federal judge's order in March that the FDA expand access to EC to women ages 17 and older, and reconsider whether minors under the age of 17 should be allowed to access EC over-the-counter. Steve Trombley, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, applauded the announcement, saying the decision by the FDA "puts women’s health ahead of politics."

"We must do everything we can to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and protect the health and safety of all women,” said Trombley.

It's about time the FDA started using common sense. The on-going saga around EC (played out through the terms of 3 FDA commissioners!) has wreaked of political ideology and Bush administration agenda-pushing. With yesterday's decision, good medical science seems to have finally come back into the picture.

EC is a high dose of birth control that reduces the risk of pregnancy when taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex. Currently, women 18 and over may obtain EC over-the-counter. Timing is crucial, therefore unobstructed access to EC is necessary.

What's more, a recent study by the Center for Disease Control revealed that although pregnancy and birth rates among girls aged 15–19 years had been declining since 1991, birth rates increased for the first time in 2006 . These alarming statistics demand that measures be taken to help curb the rise of unintended teen pregnancies. The expansion of over-the-counter access to EC for 17-year-old women is a logical step forward.

Technorati tags: FDA, emergency contraception, Plan B, Planned Parenthood


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