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Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Morning after pill discussion.....

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tricia
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Morning after pill discussion.....

FDA Weighs Morning After Pill Teen Access

3 hours ago

By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National Writer

CHICAGO - Some see easy access to emergency contraception as a way to drastically reduce teen pregnancy, already on the decline since the early 1990s. Others worry that its long-term effects on young women are unknown or argue that the drug, also known as the "morning after pill," encourages teens to have sex.

Ultimately, it will be up to Food and Drug Administration officials to decide: Should older teens be able to buy emergency contraception over the counter?

Earlier this year, the FDA denied one drug company's request to sell its brand of emergency contraception to anyone. Now that company, Barr Pharmaceuticals, has submitted a second proposal _ to sell its Plan B brand to people 16 and older, but to require anyone younger than that to consult a physician. The company expects a decision next year.

Over-the-counter sales have received support from both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association.

Such access, some argue, would make it easier to get emergency contraception on evenings and weekends, allowing more women to take it in the recommended 72-hour window after unprotected sex.

Others, including some young women, see it as a way for teens who don't want their parents to know they're having sex to help prevent unwanted pregnancy.

"Kids are going to end up having kids because they're hiding from their parents; they're too scared to tell them," says a 17-year-old in Brooklyn, N.Y., who thinks over-the-counter access would "definitely" help teens like her. She asked that her name not be used because her parents don't know she used the morning-after pill in April after her boyfriend's condom broke.

The young woman is a patient of Dr. Bernadith Russell, the attending physician at Long Island Hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department who also works in private practice at teen clinics in Brooklyn. She says the topic of unplanned pregnancy and emergency contraception comes up with her patients nearly every day. But few want to discuss it with their parents _ or use insurance to buy emergency contraception out of fear their parents will find out.

"I can't begin to say how much of a barrier that is," Russell says.

However, a physician who opposes over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception fears that young women would skip regular visits to the gynecologist if they didn't need to see a doctor to get it.

"They're not going to get their pap smears; they're not going to get screened for sexually transmitted disease," says Dr. Gene Rudd, a gynecologist who serves as associate executive director of the Tennessee-based Christian Medical Association.

He also says some young women might not want to use emergency contraception if they knew how it worked.

A stronger dose of regular hormonal contraception, the morning-after pill can prevent pregnancy by delaying a woman's ovulation or keeping sperm from fertilizing an egg.

It also can thin the uterus lining, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. That's a major reason anti-abortion groups _ from the American Life League to the Pro-Life Action League _ are among emergency contraception's main opponents.

While many in the medical field do not share their view, they see interfering with a fertilized egg as abortion.

"Emergency contraception is not true contraception," says Sierra Correa, the 22-year-old vice president of Collegians For Life, a student group that opposes the morning-after pill. "Drug companies have been getting away with calling it contraception by redefining pregnancy to mean implantation" of a fertilized egg.

Some opponents also have argued that easier access to the morning-after pill would make teens more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior _ though some doctors say that research done at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine casts doubt on that argument.

The study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, found that teens who had emergency contraception on hand were not more likely to have unprotected sex. It also concluded that those teens were more likely to use emergency contraception correctly and sooner after sex, when it is most effective.

Such findings have motivated some nonprofits that serve youth to launch information campaigns to let teens know emergency contraception exists.

Officials at one of those nonprofits, Washington, D.C.-based Advocates For Youth, also point to the research of James Trussell, director of Princeton University's Office of Population Research. Trussell has concluded that easy access to emergency contraception could cut by half the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions among U.S. women, ages 15 to 44.

Each year, there are about 3 million unintended pregnancies _ and in about 800,000 of those cases the parents are teenagers, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Those statistics were cited last year when the FDA's scientific advisers voted, 23-4, in favor of Barr Pharmaceuticals initial proposal to sell Plan B with no age restriction.

Ultimately, however, FDA acting drug chief Dr. Steven Galson overruled the vote due to concern about young teenagers' use of emergency contraception without a doctor's guidance and the long-term effects of its use.

A young woman who has taken the morning-after pill _ and has testified before the FDA to ask for over-the-counter access _ hopes the agency will reconsider.

"The sad thing is," says Vera Brown, a junior at the University of Florida, "teenagers need it the most."

_

___

Martha Irvine is a national writer specializing in coverage of people in their 20s and younger. She can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lets discuss this, does having the morning after pill over the counter make you want to run out and have unprotected sex?

i'll be back with my input later, i wanna hear what y'all think....

bellywoman
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Morning after pill discussion.....

There should probably be a trigger on the second link in that article (morningafterpill.org). It is extremely anti-choice and uses really triggery language.

tricia
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Morning after pill discussion.....

bah, i didn't mean to put the links in there, it;s fixed now, sorry bout that...

tokossel
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Morning after pill discussion.....

Based on the side effects, there's no way I'd use 'em as contraception and go out and have unprotected sex. But, that's also coming from an emetophobe (fear of vomiting). I'm glad it's there, but I wouldn't want to use it more often than I really had to.

julie
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Morning after pill discussion.....

"Earlier this year, the FDA denied one drug company's request to sell its brand of emergency contraception to anyone. Now that company, Barr Pharmaceuticals, has submitted a second proposal _ to sell its Plan B brand to people 16 and older, but to require anyone younger than that to consult a physician. The company expects a decision next year. "

this is really interesting because i believe the refusal that came out fairly recently had some bullshit justification based on there not being "enough research" or something like that for the way the drug worked in women under 16. i'd like to see what the new refusal will be, now that the age limit is 16. (obviously i don't want there to be an age limit at all)

the "that will make teenagers have sex!" argument always makes me roll my eyes. show me one teenager who said, "oh gee, i just noticed there's a rack of condoms at the drug store. i am going to have sex now!" who wouldn't have had sex for some other reason soon anyway.
the fact is, hormones, social pressures, the media, friends, curiousity, etc etc all make teenagers want to have sex! teenagers are sexual creatures, and we as a society better start accepting that. rather than work backwards trying to prevent teenage sex by limiting access to abortions, contraception, and information, and hoping we can scare them away from it because we've engineered it so that sex may put them in danger, why not just start at the beginning with frank discussions about sex with kids/teens? figure out ways to let kids know they DON'T have to have sex if they don't want to that don't hinge on some hypocritical Christian morality. demystify sex a little bit, remove it from the list of ways kids can be cool and rebellious, let people know they aren't freaks if they aren't ready yet, and see what happens.
the US has such a high teen pregnancy rate not because we sell condoms in stores or talk about EC, but because we don't give teenagers any of the facts, instill too much shame in them for many of them to find that information themselves, and ignore all of the influences that play heavily in their lives, both biological and cultural.

i took the morning after pill once. it made me sick and cost 35 dollars. it was also nerve-wracking as hell. there's no way i'd rely on that as birth control, it's too expensive, too many side effects, and i'd rather just be protected from the start and not have to deal with franticly looking up all the EC effectiveness statistics i can.

x.kristy.o
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Morning after pill discussion.....

"Lets discuss this, does having the morning after pill over the counter make you want to run out and have unprotected sex? "
Nope, it's just reassuring to know that if the situation ever came up that pregnancy was a possibility that it would be there.

jen
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Morning after pill discussion.....

You know, it's interesting...females go through puberty between the ages of 9-15 (give or take, depending on the person), yet they are expected to delay sexual activity and childbearing until much later. Never before in our evolutionary history has the gap between the age in which women are fertile and the age at which it is socially acceptable to have sex and bear children been so vast. Teenage sexuality is a biological fact, not a "social problem" or a recent phenomenon. That said, I hate when people say that sex ed in schools, condom availability, etc make teens more likely to have sex. Now they are using the same argument against the morning after pill. Ugh. Teenagers have always had sex, teenagers are always going to have sex. It's not "wrong." We need to make sure that girls and women have access to unbiased knowledge about our reproductive health and resources including birth control and the MAP so that we can make the best choices for ourselves regarding sexual/reproductive issues. Denying access to the morning after pill or any other reproductive services will not keep people from having sex, as the abstinence-only contingent would have us believe. However, granting access to birth control and information about sexual health WILL help women to make the best choices for themselves regarding their reproductive status.

julie
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Morning after pill discussion.....

oops, i didn't mean to call it the morning after pill in my post, and we should all try not to do that, since it can be really misleading. I know when i was in high school we all thought you could only actually take EC the morning after, and if you were any later than that you were screwed. calling it Emergency Contraception is much more accurate and i generally try to do that.

kittenkatie
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Morning after pill discussion.....

ok where to start!
I don't believe it should have an age limit on it at all. I believe it should be readily Available for those who need it. I don't want to run out and have unprotected sex knowing that There's a backup plan incase something happens! And on that note. It's a backup plan it's not anyone's first choice.
It made me sick the time I used it and then the doctor chose to hassle me about using protection. Well guess what buddy I did and the condom broke! my fault? no not really.

jen
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Morning after pill discussion.....

Eek, sorry. Emergency contraception can actually be taken up to seventy-two hours after unprotected sex, right?

julie
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Morning after pill discussion.....

Here's some info I just found. I remember reading something about this in Glamour magazine or something, I think it's a fairly recent development.

From www.fwhc.org/birth-control/ecinfo.htm

"EC is used within 120 hours (5 days) after intercourse. It is most effective within the first 24-48 hours."

From http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/66/79875.htm

"It is widely known as the "morning-after pill," but new research confirms that emergency contraception reliably prevents pregnancy even when taken as long as five days after having sex. "

Interesting stuff!

naivete
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Morning after pill discussion.....

I've used emergency contraceptive before, and I don't think I'd ever use it as a steady source of birth control. I can't see women opting for going to the doctors for EC every time they have sex over going on the pill or using condoms or whatnot.

After I was raped I went to the doctor, and asked for it. Let me tell you - it wasn't easy to get, and I did get the whole birth control spiel. I felt exposed, I felt ashamed, and it made my rape-situation that much harder because I just wanted to make sure I didn't get pregnant from it. If I were able to go and get it OTC.. it would have been less traumatic.

Just because it's there doesn't mean it's automatically going to become first choice for everyone. It fucked up my body good and I can't imagine using EC every week or so would be healthy on your system. It's expensive, and it's hard on your body. It's nice to have as an easily-accessible option though.

bearbear
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Morning after pill discussion.....

I think emergency contraception should be available for anyone to get it. What really gets me is people saying that "having EC readily available will make "teens" go out and have sex." People knowing about it is not going to change whether they want to have sex...it's called education. So now women know about it and how to get it instead of possibly being put into a situation they don't want to be in.

nothingmuch
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Morning after pill discussion.....

I hope they approve it for girls age 16 and up.

I bet a lot of 15-year-olds will be having their 16-year-old friends buy it for them. I bet they'd even sell it to a 16-year-old boy, if it's just on the shelf and all you have to do is show ID at the cash register, like with nicotine patches. Older boys could buy it for their younger girlfriends.

mae
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Morning after pill discussion.....

Seriously, having to take EC really made me rethink my lax safe sex policy. The side effects were horrible, I was so sick. It was a blessing in disguise, except for the jerk man who made me feel like the biggest piece of shit during our "counseling" session. I almost didnt go because I was afraid of something like that. Having EC over the counter would really help girls take charge of their bodies, without having to justify themselves to some partial prick.

By the way, I was charged $75 at PP. Did anyone else have to pay that much?

naivete
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Morning after pill discussion.....

I got my EC for free since I'm in Canada, it was covered fully by Alberta Health Care, so I'm not sure how much it should have been here.

katg
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Morning after pill discussion.....

I took EC when I was traveling around with my bf and the condom broke. We had no money and were living out of my van, PP gave it to us for 20$. I got so sick, and didn't have a nice warm bed to curl up in. It sucked.

The nurse at a free dinner I go to gives out EC, and I had some for a while, we ended up giving it to someone who needed it.

It absolutly needs to be made avalable.