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Legal, Safe - and WV's Best Kept Secret?

July 30, 2007

It's legal, it's safe and there's no prescription necessary. Still many West Virginia women and men don't know about it. Also known as "Plan B," emergency contraception is intended to prevent pregnancy for rape victims or in the event that other contraceptive devices fail. Margaret Chapman with West Virginia Free says it's available over-the-counter for women over 18 because of an FDA ruling and the next step is making sure people know it's out there.

"It is such an effective drug at preventing unintended pregnancy, and many Americans and of course West Virginians don't know about it, and many pharmacies don't stock it."

She adds there's a statewide survey underway to find out which pharmacies stock emergency contraception. The drug has come under fire from some abortion opponents, who say it's a form of abortion; Chapman points toward FDA rulings saying the drug prevents pregnancies, rather than terminating them.

Nancy Hoffman with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services says it's especially important that victims of rape have immediate access to emergency contraception, at hospitals and pharmacies.

"Victims should have access to emergency contraception. They have many issues to be concerned about, not the least of which would be unplanned, unexpected pregnancy that might result from a brutal attack."

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WV