I was quoted in the May 2 story FDA rule on morning-after pill draws strong reaction, regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling that will allow the sale of Plan B emergency contraception over the counter to women 15 and older.
The quote, which was published correctly, says that physicians intend for emergency contraception to be used as a back-up form of birth control.
However, the primary point that I wanted to convey was that making emergency contraception available to all women over the counter, regardless of age, is widely supported by all major medical groups that provide care to women and adolescents. These include the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Several studies have shown it to be safe and effective, that it does not promote sexual activity or promiscuity as was suggested by other interviewees quoted in the article and that the medical risks are minimal and greatly outweighed by the benefits of pregnancy prevention.
As physicians, we encourage teenagers and young women to be educated about the risks of unprotected sex and to be open and communicate with their families about their sexual health. However, the reality is that teenagers are sexually active, in many cases without contraception or with contraceptive failures, and there are increased risks of pregnancy in teenagers.
From a medical perspective, increasing access to emergency contraception for these high-risk girls and women is a major public-health issue, one supported by the medical literature.
Karen Y. Tang, M.D., assistant professor, Department of OB/Gyn, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami