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WASHINGTON — Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards released the following statement in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s call for applications for generic versions of one-pill emergency contraception to be sold over the counter without a prescription or proof-of-age requirement.

“This is a significant step forward for women’s health that will benefit women of all ages, and especially women who struggle to make ends meet. When a woman fears she might become pregnant after her contraceptive has failed or she has had unprotected sex, she needs fast access to emergency contraception, not delays at the pharmacy counter. Having more than one kind of emergency contraception stocked on store shelves will make EC more accessible to everyone – and that means more women than ever will be able to prevent unintended pregnancy.

“The age restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception are simply not supported by the science. Research shows that emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy when regular contraception has failed or unprotected sex has occurred. These studies also show that teens are as likely as adults to use emergency contraception correctly – and that the rates of unprotected sex do not increase when they have easier access to emergency birth control.

“As the leading women’s health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how critical it is that women of all ages are able to get emergency contraception quickly and without hurdles. We applaud this step forward.”


Consistent use of reliable birth control is the best way to prevent an unintended pregnancy, but unprotected sex does occur, and sometimes condoms fail. Emergency contraception provides a safe, effective way to prevent pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.

  • Research shows that emergency contraception is safe for use by women of all ages and that teens have equally as successful health outcomes as adult women when using it.
  • Multiple studies have shown that teens are as likely as adults to use emergency contraception correctly and that both groups report little if any difficulty using the method.
  • Research also shows that teens understand that emergency contraception is not intended for ongoing, regular use and that the rates of unprotected sex do not increase when they have easier access to emergency birth control.
  • Nearly half of all pregnancies that occur in the U.S. each year are unintended. The average age for first time sex is 17, and roughly 750,000 pregnancies will occur among 15- to 19-year-olds each year. 

About Emergency Contraception:

Emergency contraception works by preventing pregnancy; it will not work if a woman is already pregnant.

EC is a safe, effective form of birth control that must be taken within five days of unprotected sex. It works by postponing ovulation, which prevents sperm from coming in contact with and fertilizing an egg. Emergency contraception does not end a pregnancy. In fact, every major medical institution, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states unequivocally that Plan B One-Step and other types of emergency contraception are forms of birth control, and they cannot induce an abortion.

The FDA approved Plan B One-Step in 1999. It was the first progestin-only medication specifically designed for emergency contraceptive use, and was cleared for over-the-counter sales in 2006 for users 17 or older. However, doctors have been prescribing emergency birth control since the 1960s, and studies published as early as 1974 have shown emergency contraception to be safe and effective.



Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433


February 28, 2014