The manufacturer of Plan B, or the morning-after pill, has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow the emergency contraceptive to be placed directly on store shelves.
As it stands, Plan B, or the morning-after pill, is considered an over-the-counter drug but only for those older than 17 years of age. Women seeking the pill under 17 need a prescription for the drug. The Washington Post reports that the FDA has till Wednesday to make a decision if the pill will be made available for general purchase:
“Hopefully, it will be right on the shelves between the condoms and the pregnancy tests,” said Kirsten Moore of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. “We think it’s good news for women’s health and long overdue.”
The drug has long been controversial and was the focus of one of the biggest health disputes during the administration of President George W. Bush. Plan B works primarily by preventing an egg from being fertilized. Critics, however, focus on the chance that it may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, an action they consider equivalent to an abortion. As a result, it has been the subject of intense debate and conflict. Some doctors refuse to write prescriptions for it, some pharmacists refuse to fill requests, and some hospitals refuse to provide it to patients.
“It’s not a drug that prevents life — it’s a drug that destroys life,” said Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group. “If we define life as beginning at fertilization or conception, then this drug can be an abortifacient.”
According to Plan B One Step, the drug, when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, is nearly 90 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. The manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, states on the drug's website that Plan B is not the abortion pill.
The Washington Post goes on to report that opponents are also concerned over the level of parent's rights being taken away if this drug were allowed to be sold to those under 17 years without a prescription and also that it opens the door to abuse of vulnerable minors:
“Parents have to sign a permission slip for their children to go on a class trip or get their ears pierced,” [Janice Crouse of Concerned Women of America] Crouse said. “When you are talking about selling something like this over the counter, you are opening up a can of worms when it comes to parental involvement in their children’s lives.”
The Post notes that Teva made this request citing two studies that showed girls under the age of 17 -- as young as 11 -- understood package labeling and proper use of the medication.
[H/T Fox News]