From the ACLU:
This Tuesday the deadline expires on a public comment period for Plan B, a form of emergency contraception that would already be available without a prescription if it were not trapped in bureaucratic limbo for purely political reasons.
Although scientists overwhelmingly agree that Plan B is safe for over-the-counter use, the FDA has unconscionably put off making a decision on whether or not it will allow over-the-counter sales for over two years. Even senior members of the FDA support making the drug available without a prescription. In fact, Susan Wood, director of the FDA’s women’s health office for nearly five years, has resigned because of this delay.
To add your voice to the call for reproductive rights by posting a comment to the FDA website, click here.
More information is available here, here and here; FDA’s weaselly bullshit here. This is the comment I sent:
I urge the FDA to approve Barr Laboratory’s application to market Plan B over-the-counter. By continuing to delay a decision on this application the FDA fails to meet its obligation to promote and protect women’s health.
How many women have suffered needlessly in the two years the FDA has been dragging its feet on this issue, in direct defiance of medical evidence and opinion (from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association, to name just three authoritative bodies who support otc access to Plan B)?
The current requirement for a prescription for Plan B is utterly ridiculous: emergency contraception must be taken within 72 to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. What part of ’emergency’ are you having trouble understanding? Do you require a prescription for snakebite antivenom? (Well no, of course not: men might get bitten by a snake.)
The decision to limit otc availability of Plan B to women seventeen years or older will do nothing but humiliate women who are already dealing with a traumatic situation. It smacks of pandering to the repressive, authoritarian, misogynistic religious right. So let’s get away for a moment from the madonna/whore nonsense the fundies are peddling. Every year approximately 25,000 pregnancies occur because of sexual assault, and the prescription requirement serves as a major barrier to access to emergency contraception for many of these women. Would you, whoever you are reading this, be prepared to face any of these women and tell them, tough, you need a prescription: you have to find another doctor, answer more personal and painful questions, and find a pharmacy to fill your prescription, all in the next 72 hours? Plan B can immediately and safely remove the risk of unwanted pregnancy; what possible reason could there be for denying the victim of sexual assault this protection?
Finally, there can be no objection to Plan B on the grounds of opposition to abortion. Plan B is NOT an abortifacient
; it prevents implantation1. It is contraception, no different in functionterms of whether it causes abortion from a condom. Otc access to plan B will significantly reduce abortion rates.
More than 70 medical organizations and the FDA’s own drug advisory committees support making Plan B available over-the-counter. Continued stalling makes it plain that the FDA is not an independent regulatory body but a political organization, not an advocate for citizen health and safety but a pliant tool in the hands of power.
Everyone should know about emergency contraception. You can learn what it is, how it works and how to get it from Back Up Your Birth Control and Princeton U’s Emergency Contraception page.
1 Update: oops. Although progestin does prevent implantation in some animal models, there is no direct evidence that it does the same thing in humans. What it clearly does do is prevent ovulation. This matters because sperm can survive up to five days in the reproductive tract, and a mature egg has a window of about 24 hours during which it can be fertilized. Note, though, that this can in no way represent abortion, since implantation does not occur until 7 days after ovulation.
How do I know all this? I read ema’s post over at The Well-Timed Period. You should too. (Hat-tip: Prof B.)
Did you leave the FDA a comment yet? If not, please do.