The Morning-After Pill: Where It Can Be Sold Now

A box of Plan B pillsTwo new decisions regarding the morning-after pill have been made.

READ: Federal Judge Issues Ruling On Emergency Contraception

Currently, Plan B One-Step is sold behind pharmacy counters, and buyers must prove they’re 17 or older to buy it without a prescription. More recently, a federal ruling had been made attempting to lift all age restrictions on emergency contraception access.

But now, the FDA is allowing for the morning-after pill to be moved to the over-the-counter section, and has lowered the age limit of those who can purchase it to 15.

This most recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration lowers the age limit and will allow the pill to sit on drugstore shelves next to spermicides or other women’s health products and condoms. However, the person attempting to buy it must first prove their age.

“This decision is a step in the right direction for increased access to a product that is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “It’s also a decision that moves us closer to these critical availability decisions being based on science, not politics.”

The FDA said the Plan B One-Step will be packaged with a product code that prompts the cashier to verify a customer’s age. Anyone who can’t provide such proof as a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport wouldn’t be allowed to complete the purchase.

Half the nation’s pregnancies every year are unintended, and doctors’ groups say more access to morning-after pills could cut those numbers. The pills contain higher doses of regular contraceptives, and if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.

The FDA had been poised to lift all age limits and let Plan B sell over-the-counter in late 2011, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in an unprecedented move, overruled this move. Sebelius said some girls as young as 11 are physically capable of bearing children, but shouldn’t be able to buy the pregnancy-preventing pill on their own.

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