So What is Plan C?
Recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of *Plan B One-Step® (levonorgestrel) also known as the “Morning After Pill” as a non-prescription product available to all females/women of child-bearing potential. This move, prompted by a court ruling of the United States District Court in New York to make levonorgestrel-containing emergency contraceptives available as over-the-counter (OTC) is surrounded by much controversy.
Plan B One-Step® has been controversial since its introduction to the market in July 2009. Why? Because taken 24-72 hours after unprotected intercourse or in the event of a known contraceptive failure, it is intended to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Another moral objection that played in the background for many people, pharmacists included, is, making this drug available as an OTC product would be an inducement to promiscuity since the recent admission to the market allows for no restriction on age, nor does the recipient need parental permission to purchase.
The debate/battle over “Emergency Contraception” is not new. In the not so distant past, pharmacists have been fired and had their licenses suspended because of their moral objection to dispensing the “Morning After Pill”. Many pharmacists across the country feel that they shouldn’t have to dispense medications that go against their personal, moral and religious beliefs. In fact this debate/battle has gone so far that a group of pharmacists sued a major drug store chain because the pharmacists refused to sign a pledge stating they would fill “Emergency Contraception” without delay if the medication was in stock. The pharmacists were suspended indefinitely without pay when they refused to sign.
On the other side of the coin, why are the rights of the women who have valid prescriptions from their prescribers for a FDA approved medication being short circuited? Why are their prescriptions being held hostage? Pharmacists are passing judgment if the woman is single or if the woman/girl is less than 17 years of age. It is unknown if pharmacists are privy to the statistics that 44% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18 and 80% are under the age of 30. Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Fifty four (54%) of the sexual assaults are never reported to the police. Ninety-seven (97%) of rapists will never spend a day in jail. Unfortunately approximately 2/3 of the assaults are committed by someone known to the victims.
Many states, Florida included have provisions which allow pharmacists to opt out of dispensing Plan B One-Step® if they have a moral objection to do so. Some states require that if a pharmacist has a moral objection to dispensing Plan B One-Step®, the pharmacist must assist the patient in finding a pharmacy that does.
*Plan B One-Step® will not stop a pregnancy when a woman is already pregnant and there is no medical evidence that the product will harm a developing fetus.
FDA Press Announcements:
Pharmacists Sues over Birth Control Policy