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Access to EC Still Limited for Teens

NEW YORK CITY — On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of over-the-counter (OTC) status for Plan B emergency contraception (EC), Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) vowed to continue its campaign to increase access to the safe, effective backup birth control option. Many women, including teens, continue to be denied access to this essential form of contraception.

"Every woman deserves every chance to prevent unintended pregnancy and the FDA's approval of EC OTC was a real step forward for women and families.  But we still have a long way to go — women, especially young women, continue to face barriers when they try to get EC," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. "Planned Parenthood is leading the charge to ensure access to this important backup birth control method — last year alone, Planned Parenthood provided more than 1.2 million women with emergency contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy."

EC lowers the risk of pregnancy when started within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. The sooner backup birth control is taken, the better it works, making timely access critically important. Unfortunately, the FDA restricts young women's access to the backup birth control method by requiring a prescription for EC for anyone under age 18.

“The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among the most developed countries — approximately 750,000 teens will get pregnant this year. The FDA should be doing everything it can to help teenagers avoid unintended pregnancy, not imposing scientifically baseless age restrictions,” added Richards. “Planned Parenthood urges the FDA to reconsider the age restriction on EC. Studies show that teenagers use EC responsibly and don't rely on it as a regular method of birth control."

Since the FDA ruling, Planned Parenthood has worked to increase access to this backup birth control option. On December 6, 2006, PPFA organized a national Free EC Day, during which more than 350 Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers offered free emergency contraception in their communities. Planned Parenthood recommends that every woman have EC in her medicine cabinet, so it's there just in case she needs it.

“EC is safe and effective and provides women with an important second chance to prevent unintended pregnancy, and women need timely access to it,” said PPFA Vice President for Medical Affairs Vanessa Cullins, M.D. “Women can always turn to Planned Parenthood for EC and all their birth control options.”

Learn more about EC, and get more information about PPFA's campaign to ensure pharmacy access to EC, Fill My Pills Now.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Andrea Hagelgans, 212-261-4652


May 13, 2014