Emergency contraception (a.k.a. EC, ECP, "Morning After" Pill)
Developments during the year 2006
Developments during 2006:
||2006-JAN-26: IL: Attempts to repeal emergency contraception rule:
At least three bills have been introduced by Illinois lawmakers to overturn
Governor Rod Blagojevitch's (D) regulation which requires pharmacies to
directly or indirectly fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives.
Pharmacist and Representative Ron Stephens, (R-Greenville) said: "We're
not saying take it off the market. We're just saying for those pharmacists
who have a religious problem with it, don't make us fill it."
Blagojevich responded: "Now, I understand that several bills have been
introduced that would overturn my executive order to protect women's
reproductive freedoms. So let me make something else very clear - if any of
those bills reach my desk, they are dead on arrival." Rep. Kurt Granberg,
(D-Carlyle) who cosponsored two of the bills said: "Pharmacists weren't
allowed to do what they think is right. And I don't think that's appropriate
government business." Pam Sutherland of the Illinois Planned
Parenthood Council said: "It was comforting that the governor was
there to protect women's access. I think women will be able to rest easy
knowing that the governor will veto any legislation that comes to his desk."
||2006-FEB-14: MA: Pharmacy board orders Wal-Mart to honor Plan B prescriptions:
Wal-Mart stores in Massachusetts in Quincy and Lynn, MA, refused to fill
Plan B prescriptions to three
women: Julie Battel, Dr. Rebekah Gee, and Katrina McCarty. They filed complaints with the Massachusetts Pharmacy Board against
for failing to stock Plan B medication. This is the only emergency
contraceptive approved by the FDA. |
Two weeks later, the Massachusetts Pharmacy Board ruled unanimously that Wal-Mart must honor
prescriptions for emergency contraceptives. They based their decision on a state
regulation requiring pharmacies to dispense "commonly prescribed
medications in accordance with the usual needs of the community." Since Plan B must be taken
shortly after unprotected intercourse in order to be effective, this order
implies that Wal-Mart must maintain a supply of Plan B medication in their
stores -- an act that the company had resisted in the past. They do not plan to
appeal the ruling.
According to the New Standard News:
||None of the company's 44 stores in Massachusetts stocks the
||Plan B is only available in Wal-Mart stores in Illinois. This is
because of a state law that requires pharmacies to carry EC.
||Wal-Mart is considering changing their policy across the U.S.
||They claim that they do not stock the pills because consumer demand
is too low. The validity of this statement could be easily checked by
Wal-Mart officials by comparing the number of EC prescriptions filled
when compared to all other medications that the company does stock. It
could also be checked by anyone asking a cooperative pharmacy for their
experience in prescribing Plan B.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL and two large Wal-Mart watchdog
organizations -- Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart --
are calling for a national push to change the company's policy. 2 Dr. Gee said:
"I'm proud to be able to tell my patients that they now can go anywhere for
their prescriptions. My patients should not have to shop around."
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, a
group advocating access to EC and abortions were pleased with the decision,
but stated that access to Plan B is a contraception issue, not one of
abortion. Marie Sturgis, spokesperson for Massachusetts Citizens for Life,
said that her group opposes Plan B because it's a "chemical abortion"
and because its long-term health effects are unknown.
||2006-FEB-17: CT: Comptroller
asks Wal-Mart to honor Plan B prescriptions: Apparently triggered by
the Massachusetts developments, Nancy Wyman, the state comptroller of
Connecticut, has asked Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraceptive in its
20 pharmacies in the state. She wrote: "I believe it is
important for women to have a treatment such as Plan B available as an
option if they so choose." 4 Wal-Mart
spokesperson Dan Fogleman said on FEB-16 that the company is reviewing
its national policy on EC. He said: "Women’s health is a
priority for Wal-Mart. There’s a lot of broader considerations, but it’s
something we’re giving a lot of thought to." 5|
||2006-MAR-03: USA: Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraception: A
Wal-Mart spokesperson announced that the company would start to stock EC in
all its 3,700 pharmacies in the U.S. starting on MAR-20.
||2006-JUN-12: World: Catholic News Agency (CNA) publishes
misinformation: The CNA published an article about
the use of EC in the Galicia region of northern Spain. Some doctors in the area are
concerned that some young women are taking EC as many as seven times a month to
prevent pregnancy. The article states that "The morning-after pill is
equivalent to 25 regular birth control pills and its frequent use can seriously
affect a woman’s health." 7
This is not accurate. According to the Feminist Women's Health Center, a
morning-after pill is equivalent to from 2 to 5 of one color of pills of all of
the common birth control pills; the exact number depends on the brand. The only
known exception is for a very weak pill, Ovrette, of which 20 are
equivalent to an EC pill. 6|
One problem with publishing incorrect information of this sort is that young
women will become needlessly concerned about their health if they take EC. But a
more serious result may be that some women will incorrectly associate 25 of
their birth control pills with one EC pill, and end up taking a massive
overdose. We are not medical experts, but it is possible that If this action
were repeated often enough, over a sufficiently long time, their health could be
We have sent a form to the Catholic News Agency asking that they print
a prominent retraction on their web site. We have also sent an Email to
LifeSite. net who provide a link to the article.
||2006-AUG-09: USA: Over-the-counter-sales of morning-after-pill may be
implemented: Barr Laboratories and the FDA have agreed on a plan to
allow over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception. Under the new plan,
women under the age of 18 would still need to provide a prescription. The
pills would only be sold in pharmacies and licensed clinics. The FDA will
require Barr to use different packaging for the over-the-counter and
prescription sales. There is some concern that pharmacies would not stock
the latter packages because most of the sales would be over-the-counter. As
always, most pro-life groups oppose EC because they feel it can operate as
an abortifacient. Pro-choice groups promote EC partly in order to reduce
||2006-AUG-21: USA: President supports FDA
plans: Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew von
Eschenbach testified at a U.S. Senate committee hearing during the week of
AUG-13. He said that Plan B emergency contraceptive can safely be sold to
adult women. On AUG-21, President Bush gave support to von Eschenbach's plan
to allow sales of Plan B without a prescription to women over the age of 17.
Women under the age of 18 would still require a prescription. 9|
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Ann Sanner, "Bills address emergency contraception," Associated
Press, 2006=JAN-26, at:
Brendan Coyne, "Activists Push Wal-Mart over 'Morning After Pill'," The
New Standard, 2006-FEB-17, at:
- "Wal-Mart Forced To Stock Contraceptive,"
Associated Press, 2006-FEB-14, at:
- "Wal-Mart May Stock 'Emergency'
Contraceptives," ConsumerAffairs.com, 2006-FEB-15, at:
- "Comptroller wants retailer to stock
‘morning-after’ pill," Associated Press, 2006-FEB-17, at:
- "Emergency Contraception (also known as The
"Morning After" Pill or "Plan B")," Feminist Women's Health Center, at:
- "Morning-after pill spreading out of control in
Spanish schools," Catholic News Agency, 2006-MAY-30, at:
Gardiner Harris, "F.D.A. Gains Accord on Wider Sales of Next-Day Pill," The New York Times, 2006-AUG-09, at:
"Bush indicates support for Plan B," United Press International,
Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-AUG-23
Author: B.A. Robinson