Statement on FDA Approval of Emergency Contraception without Age Restrictions
Carole Brite, Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO
“The FDA decision to approve emergency contraception without age restrictions is a huge step forward for the well-being of women. Emergency contraception is a safe and effective form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex. With this decision, women will be able to access emergency contraception over the counter without barriers.
Illinois has some of the highest unintended teen pregnancy rates in the country. It ranks 21st out of 50 states in unintended teen pregnancies. Some counties in Illinois have a teen pregnancy rate far above the national average. Planned Parenthood of Illinois knows firsthand how essential access to preventive care is for women in Illinois. Our 17 health centers across the state offer emergency contraception and comprehensive birth control services to help women stay safe and healthy.”
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.
• Studies have shown 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 has shown 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 must be taken within five days of unprotected sex, and it will not work if a woman is already pregnant. EC is a safe, effective form of birth control that 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 and other types of emergency contraception are forms of birth control, and they cannot induce an abortion.
The FDA approved Plan B 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 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.
June 11, 2013