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Morning-After Pill May Be Hard to Find in MO Despite Court Ruling

A federal judge has ordered emergency contraceptives to be available to all ages of women within 30 days. Courtesy of: Women's Capital Corp.
A federal judge has ordered emergency contraceptives to be available to all ages of women within 30 days. Courtesy of: Women's Capital Corp.
April 9, 2013

ST. LOUIS - Missouri women may have trouble finding the morning-after pill, despite the fact that a federal judge has ordered it to be made more widely available. The pill had been banned for purchase by anyone under 17, but even though a federal judge last week lifted the age restriction, the Missouri Senate passed a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to stock it, and the Missouri Pharmacy Association supports the legislation.

According to Paula Gianino with Planned Parenthood, that would be especially unfair to teenagers who have been victimized by crimes such as date rape.

"She feels she can't even come to her parents because she's so afraid, so much in shock, and - for some girls - so ashamed," Gianino characterized possible reactions. "Is it better for us to take the position of not making these safe and effective contraceptive methods available?", she asked.

The pharmacists' trade group says it wants protections for those who are morally against selling the pill and those who feel they don't have a market for it. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say young teenagers should have access to it, because it is safe and it prevents pregnancy, which in young teens, can actually be more risky than the pill.

Gynecologists say many people are misinformed about the science of emergency contraceptives. Gianino agrees.

"It already is a problem in Missouri," she said, and declared, "It is contraception, as labeled by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not abortion."

Gianino, who is president, Planned Parenthood St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, pointed out that the morning-after pill works by preventing pregnancy. The company that produces Plan B recommends that it be taken within three days of unprotected sex. Researchers say that if a woman is already pregnant, the pill will have no effect on the pregnancy or the developing fetus.

More information is at ec.princeton.edu.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO