May 09
Lorraine Berry lives in the Fingerlakes region of New York, although it's her transplanted home. On weekends, she can be heard throughout the area, cheering on her beloved Manchester City F.C. When not writing at Does This Make Sense? or Talking Writing, she can be found hiking with her two dogs, hanging out with her two daughters, eating what her beloved Rob has cooked for her, or teaching creative writing at a small college in the area.


DECEMBER 6, 2011 11:13AM

Hallelujah for Plan B!!

Rate: 22 Flag

I have a history of writing about Plan B contraception, and those who would seek to deny it to women who need it.

Today, in what surely must be an early holiday present for millions of women of reproductive age, theWashington Post is reporting that the FDA is considering making Plan B contraception available to girls under the age of 17. 


I, for one, won't have to continue to pledge to supply young women with birth control. They won't have to ask one of the morally disapproving pharmacists for Plan B; they will be able to select it from the shelf the same way they can buy Monistat to cure a yeast infection. 

While the writer of the WP likens buying Plan B now to "[being] easy to get as toilet paper and toothpaste," (and I wonder if he has any experience with Plan B, given that the writer of said-article is a male?), I think comparing the buying of Plan B to being able to take care of your reproductive system is the much more apt analogy. 

One woman who does get it, Susan Wood, who resigned from her job after the Bush administration IGNORED its own scientific recommendations from the FDA to continue to deny women Plan B, says

“If you got into a Wal-Mart and the pharmacy is closed, you’re out of luck,” said Susan Wood of George Washington University, who resigned from the FDA a few years ago to protest the agency’s delays in making Plan B available without a prescription. “By having it on the shelf, more women will become aware of the availability of emergency contraception and won’t have to ask someone in an emergency situation about a very private and personal situation. Hopefully, that will help women when time is of the essence.”

Of course, those who are opposed to any woman having sex for any reason other than to get pregnant already have their quivers full of indignation: 

“When anybody can buy an emergency contraceptive like this over the counter, you open the door for all sorts of abuse, and especially so when it comes to child abuse and child exploitation,” said Janice Crouse of Concerned Women of America, another advocacy group.

(I have a long history of writing about the CWA, too, but that's another story.)

See? The opponents of Plan B contraception love girls so much that they think if you make it available over the counter, you'll make it possible for rapists and pedophiles to exploit girls and then get them to take Plan B to cover up the crime. 


I would argue that if that's the best argument CWA can produce, then they're really scraping the barrel, but that would be a waste of words. And so, I'm just going to let their idiocy sit there by itself. 

Plan B is safe. It is 89 percent effective. I have used it twice. Nobody is perfect, condoms break, women get raped and don't want to report it, and sometimes, things happen. Plan B is precisely what it says it is: Plan B for when Plan A went awry. 

So, let's hope that the FDA approves the sale of Plan B on counter shelves everywhere, and then we won't have to worry about the folks at places like Ralph's Thriftway and the Pharmacists who Don't Want to Do Their Jobs anymore. 

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Sounds reasonable - more than reasonable - to me, Lorraine.
Thanks for this. This is news everyone should be told about.

We've posted somewhat similarly today, friend.

What stuns me is the incredulity, even among some Progressives, when one points out that the same benighted bastards who'd cheerily reverse 'Roe' would fast pounce on contraception.

Great article FLW and I fully support Plan B and all contraceptive and abortion access , not just with my words, but with my vote and give money and time to NOW to continue to fight for our rights.
We might be entering the 21st century after all.
What an important topic, that more people need to be aware about...thanks for sharing this.
Wow -- think of the really nasty practical jokes you could pull with Plan-B pills.

( I for one, would not find them funny. )
My birthday is in January, so I'm one of the oldest in my grade. When I turned 17 a few years ago (I'm almost 19), you have no idea how many times I had to go to the store to buy plan b for my friends! The pharmacist probably thought I was getting so much action.

But in all seriousness, I really don't get why people liken plan b to abortion. I was shocked to read a 1995 New Republic essay by Naomi Klein in which she described being oh so ashamed and selfish for taking the morning after pill in college. I wanted to smack her. All plan b does is inhibit fertilization. Only sometimes does it prevent implantation. Once implantation occurs, plan b stops being affective. So even if you consider preventing the implantation of a days-old zygote murder (which most people don't-- even pro-lifers), plan b's main function is to prevent fertilization from occuring. Jesus Christ, people. Are you against using condoms too?
Excuse me, I meant to say Naomi Wolf, not Naomi Klein!
what rita said. rock on, lorraine.
This should bring the abstentionists out of the woodwork again. R
It's about time that the FDA came to this conclusion. I'm not surprised, Jacqueline, that you wound up being the courier for your friends. I think a lot of us were placed in the position of having to buy Plan B for those who couldn't get it.
It's not often that I have something nice to say about the FDA - here's hoping that they follow through on the reasonable decision to make Plan B easily available.

Thank you, flw, for your continued voice in this important matter! R
If the FDA is "considering" we're still years away. Maybe someone found the hidden express approval path.
Fingers crossed for wide-spread availability of Plan B. Especially for frightened, desperate women of child-bearing age all over the nation.

Pharmacists, if you can't dispense people's legal and prescribed medications professionally and in good conscience.....

Go into some other field of work!

rated with a hurrah!
This is good thing. I know one of the arguments against it is: girls will use it as birth control. Ummm, I don't think so, at $30-50 a pack, I don't see that happening. In any case, this is a good step forward.
Amen, FLW. I know more than one person whose life would have been different if it had been available. As for that "advocacy" group -- well, scroom.
I don't think teens will use Plan B as their only form of contraception. The teens with whom I talk about sex seem to always mention condoms, and I have to believe that condoms are being used fairly regularly by those who've been given the proper sex education. I think Plan B just gives you another plan for when the first one (including the "let's have sex spontaneously" lack-of-plan) fails for whatever reason.

I think the other thing that needs to be taken into account is that the young woman needs to have enough self-confidence to enforce the "cover it" rule with the men with whom she's having sex. For some young women, asking a guy to wear a condom when he wasn't intending to can be intimidating. I'm not saying that I think that's a good thing--I would want all young women who are old enough to make the decision to have sex also be confident enough to protect their bodies--but unfortunately, it just doesn't seem to work that way. At least there would be a Plan B available to them.
I'm proud to say that Plan B is one thing I have recommended for my parent friends to send off to college with their sons and daughters (since my children are the oldest in our group). It's more important than a mini fridge and a new laptop, I'd say . Stuff is pricey! And not easy to get. Seems like some pharmacies are always "out" and how can that be? Seriously.
Well, let's hope it does become reality and soon.

I needed Plan B once after a birth control failure. I refused to even deal with a pharmacy. Went to my local Planned Parenthood (it was cheaper, too). Thank goodness for PP!