Sunday, December 22, 2013

We Need a Plan B For Plan B

As far as I can tell, there is no law to stop me from buying as much Plan B over the counter as I can afford, stockpiling it in my home, and spreading the word among teens in my community that they can get emergency contraception from me any time, for free.

Thanks to freakazoid lies, that may be the only way teens needing contraception can get it.

Think Progress:

Many pharmacists give U.S. teens misleading information about the policies surrounding emergency contraception, and sometimes prevent them from buying it, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The lead study author, Dr. Tracy Wilkinson, works as a pediatrician in Los Angeles. After having several conversation with her teenage patients who told her “weird things about emergency contraception prescriptions,” she decided to look into it further. She worked with female researchers to call over 940 pharmacies in five major cities — Nashville, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Austin, and Portland, OR — posing as 17-year-old girls who wanted information about the morning after pill.

At the time that Wilkenson conducted this research, the age restrictions on Plan B hadn’t yet been changed. Emergency contraception was kept behind the pharmacy counter, and was available without a prescription to all individuals 17 and older. Younger women were required to get a prescription for it — but all of the researchers posing as 17-year-olds should have been able to purchase it on their own. Nonetheless, many of them ran into roadblocks.

“About 20 percent of the pharmacy staff said that, because the callers identified themselves as teens, the callers couldn’t get it at all. That’s completely incorrect,” Wilkinson explained to Health Behavior News Service. “Of the remaining 80 percent of respondents, about half of them got the exact age requirement correct and half of them did not.”

Some pharmacists incorrectly told teens that they needed to be accompanied by a parent or guardian if they wanted to buy Plan B. Some said that they didn’t stock the contraceptive at all for moral or ethical reasons. But mostly, there was a lot of confusion over the regulations surrounding the morning after pill — the researchers were told that they needed to be 18 years old, or they needed to be female, or they needed a prescription.

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