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17 Year-Olds Can Now Access Emergency Contraception Without Prescription

Chicago, IL - Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) applauds the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision today to comply with a federal judge’s order from March 23, 2009 to expand access to emergency contraception (EC), also known as Plan B.   

“Today’s decision by the FDA puts women’s health ahead of politics,” said Steve Trombley, PPIL President & CEO. “We must do everything we can to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and protect the health and safety of all women.”

Specifically, the court ruled that the FDA must make Plan B available over the counter to women age 17 and older within 30 days. The deadline for compliance was tomorrow. Currently, Plan B is available over the counter to women age 18 and older, and with a prescription to women younger than 18. The court also ordered the FDA to reconsider whether minors under age 17 should be permitted to obtain emergency contraception over the counter.

“It is appalling that the U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among the most developed countries in the world. Approximately 750,000 teens will get pregnant this year, and this ruling can help reduce this alarming statistic,” added Trombley. “Studies show that teenagers use emergency contraception responsibly and don't rely on it as a regular method of birth control."

The court ruling criticized the FDA’s prior decisions regarding Plan B, saying that it was infected by “political considerations, delays and implausible justifications for decision making, pressure emanating from the White House, and the obvious connection between the confirmation process of two FDA Commissioners and the timing of the FDA’s decisions.”

Research shows that increased access to contraception does not increase or encourage sexual activity among teens.

Emergency contraception (EC) pills contain hormones that reduce the risk of pregnancy when started within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. The sooner EC is administered, the better it works, making timely access critically important. And studies show that women do not rely on emergency contraception as a regular method of birth control.


Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) provides affordably priced high-quality reproductive health care services to women and families throughout Illinois. Through health care services, educational programs and advocacy efforts, PPIL works to ensure and protect the reproductive rights of each individual. For more information, visit www.ppil.org.


Planned Parenthood of Illinois


Beth Kanter
Planned Parenthood of Illinois
312.592.6829 (office)
773.551.7044 (cell)


April 22, 2009