Thursday, August 13, 2009

Plan B One-Step Approved by the FDA

A single-pill version of the Plan B emergency contraception was approved by the FDA in July. It will be available for distribution in August. Previously, Plan B has only been available in a two-pill dose, each pill to be taken 12 hours apart.

The FDA also approved lowering the age requirement to 17 from 18 for over-the-counter access to Plan B. It will be available to girls under 17 by prescription only. According to Planned Parenthood, all a woman (or man) has to do is present a “valid, government issued identification that shows proof of age.” Girls under 17 must be “evaluated by our medical staff before a prescription-version of emergency contraception can be provided.”

So, all a 16-year old (or younger) girl has to do is show up at Planned Parenthood’s offices and receive this “evaluation” and she could leave with Plan B One-Step in hand, without even her parents knowing.

It is claimed that Plan B only prevents pregnancy, and does not terminate an existing pregnancy. However, describes this drug as “a progestin hormone that prevents pregnancy by preventing the release of an egg (ovulation) and changing the womb and cervical mucus to make it more difficult for an egg to meet sperm (fertilization) or attach to the wall of the womb (implantation).” Therefore, Plan B is not only intended to prevent fertilization, but also to prevent implantation if indeed fertilization does occur, thus ending an early pregnancy.

Furthermore, Plan B is also linked to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. And women could be taking this drug needlessly if they were not fertile at the time of sex. Many young women don’t understand or track their fertility cycle, and may be unaware that one can only get pregnant a few days out of each month. The patient labeling states that it is “not intended for routine use.” Imagine the potential damage that could be done to a young woman’s fertility over time if she gets into the habit of taking Plan B every time a condom breaks or after each "unprotected" sexual encounter.

Such easy access to these drugs prevents any medical oversight that would otherwise be in place for patient protection against abuse. Allowing unmonitored access to “emergency contraception,” especially among adolescent girls, may also increase risk-taking behavior and promiscuity, increasing exposure to sexually transmitted disease, and further endangering the health of young women.

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