Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York ruled that restrictions on obtaining the morning-after pill should be struck down, allowing women of any age to purchase the drug without a prescription. This ruling overturns a 2011 decision by the secretary of health and human services requiring the pill to be kept behind the pharmacy counter for women ages 17 and up and requiring women under age 17 to obtain a prescription, despite FDA research determining that the drugs are safe and effective for adolescents and non-prescription use.
While many view this latest development as controversial, others applaud it as an important step towards greater reproductive freedom and curbing teen pregnancies. Whatever your beliefs, it’s important to know the facts. Here’s what you need to know about the morning-after pill:
- The morning-after pill is emergency contraception that can prevent pregnancy up to 120 hours after unprotected sex.
- Besides the morning-after pill, IUD insertion can also be used as emergency contraception.
- Both these options are available at health care centers and drugstores.
- The pill ranges in price from $10-$70, while the IUD costs anywhere from $500-$900.
- The morning-after pill does not cause abortion. Pregnancy does not happen immediately after unprotected sex (sometimes taking up to six days), so the morning-after pill and IUD are able to prevent pregnancy before it starts. They work like other forms of birth control by keeping a woman’s ovary from releasing an egg and being fertilized by a sperm.
- The morning-after pill is up to 89 percent effective if taken within three days of unprotected sex, then less effective if taken after that. It is no longer effective past 120 hours after unprotected sex. It also does not protect against pregnancy stemming from sex after taking the pill. The IUD is highly effective in preventing pregnancy for up to 12 years after insertion.
- The morning-after pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and should not be used as routine birth control. There are other more effective and less expensive options.
- Possible side-effects include irregular periods, breast tenderness, dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting (if you vomit within two hours of taking the pill, you will need to take another one).
What do you think about the latest ruling concerning access to the morning-after pill? Share your thoughts below.
Sources: npr.org, prnewswire.com, and plannedparenthood.org