|EMERGENCY BIRTH CONTROL
Should "morning after" pills be available without a prescription?
in this forum:
Would there be a problem with medications that conflict with emergency contraception pills? What about the religious issues involved with making the decision to take this pill? What precautions are there to make sure the medication isn't abused.
December 29, 1997
A report on the remarkable changes in reproductive technology .
January 22, 1997
Today marks the 24th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in Roe V. Wade.
September 19, 1996
The FDA has tentatively approved U.S. sales of the French abortion drug, RU486 .
Browse the Online NewsHour's coverage of health.
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
The Emergency Contraception Website
A question from Dona W of Richmnd VA:
I would assume that the majority of women who would benefit from the morning after pill without a Rx would also be those women who may not have a regular physician and/or medical insurance to cover such an expense. Is there research showing the demographics of the women who use this pill and who might go through this new project to get it?
Dr. Tom Norris, Associate Dean and Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, answers:
This is one of the areas where more data would be useful. As projects like this one become more common, it is hoped that additional information will allow us to provide good answers to these questions.
Jane Hutchings, Director of the Emergency Contraception Pilot Project, answers:
Evaluation is an important part of the pilot project. All women who have emergency contraceptive pills prescribed by a pharmacist are provided with an information sheet on emergency contraceptive pills. Attached to this sheet is a user survey to evaluate women's experiences in receiving emergency contraceptive pill services directly from a pharmacist. These user data were analyzed after two months of service and will be analyzed again at six and 18 months. At two months approximately 11% of women had responded to the survey. These preliminary data suggest that the primary reason women choose a pharmacist for emergency contraceptive pills is convenience. Over 75% of women who responded to the survey cited convenience as their reason for choosing a pharmacist. Other factors were important as well: 18% said that they didn't have a regular doctor or clinic, 16% said that their regular doctor or clinic was closed, and 12% said that they wouldn't want their regular doctor or clinic to know that they were receiving emergency contraceptive pills.
The survey also included some demographic information about the women receiving emergency contraceptive pills services directly from a pharmacist: 82% of the women were between the ages of 18 and 35, 80% had private health care insurance, 52% reported contraceptive failure, and 86% had never used ECPs before. Also, 42% of women reported that if they had not received ECP directly from a pharmacist they would have taken no action and would have waited to see if they were pregnant. An additional 16% of women didn't know what they would have done if they could not have gone straight to the pharmacy.