Should the Morning After Pill be available to all Over-the-Counter?

Not too long ago I wrote about the morning after pill, what it is, and how it works. At that time, it was available Over-The-Counter (OTC) to women 17 years old and over, and below that, women (girls) needed to get a prescription to use the medication to prevent pregnancy.

When used within 72 hours after another failed form of birth control, there is a 90% success rate in preventing unwanted pregnancy. I know there is some debate among people, but from a strictly medical standpoint, it is not an abortion pill, because it merely causes irritation to the lining of a uterus, thus not allowing anything to adhere or become fertilized and start growing. It won’t abort and already growing fetus, and should not be taken if you already know that you are pregnant.  morning-after-pill

Recently, legislation has changed. It has been highly debated at which age group the pill should become available without prescription, in 2011, here in the US, it was decided that above 17 years old can get it as an OTC. More recently legislation has changed (granted it is being opposed) so that women of any age can obtain the medication as an OTC. I have mixed emotions on this one: I think that everyone should have a right to medications that would help to prevent pregnancy after a mistake/failed birth control attempts, but should 10, 11, 12-year-old girls be able to walk in and get the morning after pill, if they are sexually active, and not be counseled regarding Sexually Transmitted Infections, or the effects of the Plan B medications on their body, or on how it would be better for them to be on regular birth control, if they continue to choose to be sexually active.  And then there are the young girls that don’t choose to be sexually active but may be forced.  Are we missing a population that needs our help and interventions?

How do parents feel about this? Would you want to know if your young daughter was using the morning after pill? I guess not giving young women the option of having Plan B as OTC, leads them to possibly make other unhealthy choices, or try home “remedies” to prevent pregnancy, which may be dangerous.

I do like the option of women/girls having the right to make their own medical decisions without the need to get an HCP appointment and then get the prescription filled, and there has been no proven negative effects on their bodies (physically) but I am wondering the mental/psychological effects,and if we could do better as HCPs to intervene and help these women. I am really torn, and I am interested what you all think about this, as it is something that almost every woman has an opinion on: When are we being too free with Plan B administration, and when should we step in?

Yours in Good Health

B


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