Plan B should be sold without a prescription

On April 19, Canada’s national health agency — Health Canada — approved emergency contraception for use without a doctor’s prescription. Doing so allows the pills to be sold at pharmacies throughout the country and makes it simpler for women to procure the methods of birth control.

Plan B, the emergency contraception Canada made more readily available, can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, according to Advocates for Youth. It is a safe method of contraception, according to the Ontario Women’s Health Council.

Canada became the 34th country worldwide to permit Plan B to be sold without a doctor’s prescription, the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday. Thirty-four countries have the right idea, and the United States would, too, if it followed suit.

Women have the right to obtain emergency contraception without a doctor’s prescription. Allowing them to simply walk into a pharmacy, pay for Plan B and obtain the contraception is much less drawn-out and potentially embarrassing for patients. Being required to visit a doctor’s office or a family service, such as Planned Parenthood, can be something many women choose to forego because they dread filling out paperwork and explaining why they need emergency contraception in the first place.

Taking the prescription to obtain emergency contraception is a safe decision. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that emergency contraception is safe and effective. Other studies have found that accidental use of the contraception will not cause birth defects, and the most common side effects associated with using it include nausea and vomiting. If it is safe, and if it is effective, this editorial board sees no reason to prohibit its availability.

Plan B, commonly dubbed the morning-after pill, does not cause abortion. Many organizations, such as the American Medical Women’s Association, define pregnancy as beginning with implantation, and several other organizations, including the FDA, agree that emergency contraception has no effect once implantation has occurred.

In Canada, the decision to approve emergency contraception for nonprescription sales has “divided the public,” according to Reuters reports. Opponents in Canada say allowing the contraception to be sold without a prescription could “promote promiscuity,” according to Reuters. Truly, there is no logic to be found in this argument. No increased availability in birth control is going to make women and men more promiscuous. People will have sex, and those people may make poor decisions or may make the right decisions and have accidents. Denying them easy access to emergency contraception, because the idea that easy access may make people easy is ludicrous.

If nothing else, making emergency contraception available without a doctor’s prescription can help men and women who do not want to have children better prevent pregnancies. According to Family Planning Perspectives, using emergency contraception could annually prevent at least 50 percent of unintended pregnancies among American women. Experts estimate that timely use of the contraception could prevent up to 70 percent of abortions, reported the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2004.

Save the doctors some pen ink, America. Save women and men from making hard decisions. Make emergency contraception available over the counter.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.