"Morning After Pill" Over-the-Counter for Ages 15 and Up
PHOTO: While the legal wrangling continues over a ruling that there should be no age restrictions on the morning-after pill, an FDA order does make it legal for those ages 15 and up to buy the emergency contraceptive over the counter.
May 7, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - At drugstores across Tennessee, over-the-counter purchases of the morning-after pill are now available to anyone age 15 and older, this after the Food and Drug Administration ruled that Plan B One Step can be sold on shelves like condoms, instead of having it behind the pharmacy counter.
According to Steven Emmert, chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, it's a step in the right direction.
"The rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States and in Tennessee is just so much higher than in other developed countries in the world, so this is an opportunity for us to make significant progress in bringing that down and so we are encouraged by it," he declared.
Still, Emmert said this ruling by the FDA falls short of the order from a federal judge last month that the morning-after pill should be available without any age restrictions.
"And what the FDA did in response to that ruling was lower the age to 15, but that still doesn't comply with that judge's ruling, and so the administration has now said they're going to appeal that federal judge's ruling, which is unfortunate," Emmert said.
Some concerns have been raised about reducing the age limit, but the FDA says Plan B is safe and effective and there's no need for a doctor's prescription. It should also be noted that Plan B works by preventing the pregnancy, not ending it.
"If you are pregnant, the morning-after pill will have no effect whatsoever on that pregnancy, so this is just another form of contraception," Emmert said.
Tennessee has the 13th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, at 76 pregnancies for every 1000 teenage girls. May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
More information on the FDA ruling is at 1.usa.gov/YAWvSX.