December 16, 2003 at 10:10 PM CST - Updated June 25 at 3:19 PM
December 16, 2003 -- Posted at 5:03 p.m. CST
JONESBORO--The federal government is considering whether to let pharmacies sell morning-after pills without a prescription.
It's called the "morning after pill." It's usually a combination of estrogen and progestin--the same things found in birth control pills. It's designed to reduce the risk of pregnancy after sex....and the FDA is deciding whether or not it can be sold over the counter.
Gloria Feldt of Planned Parenthood says, "It is a contraception, it prevents pregnancy from occurring. If a women is already pregnant, in fact, it won't work."
Emergency contraception is not an abortion pill...but taken within three days of unprotected sex, it can stop fertilization or a fertilized egg from implanting. The drugs are available at a few pharmacies in Jonesboro...the student health center at Arkansas State University does offer the pills, but refused a request for an interview on camera. However, they did release a statement:
"ASU offers emergency contraception as part of their comprehensive women's health care. It has been our experience that our patients do not abuse this. We always offer appropriate counseling to patients using emergency contraception." -ASU Student Health Center, December 16, 2003.
Students on campus weighed in on the issue.
One male said, "I think it would be great, I think they ought to do it. It would help people out a lot, they wouldn't have to go to a doctor and spend all of that money and do all that they could just go buy it."
"I think that having to go to a doctor and spending money, if you don't have it or don't have insurance is...I mean not having to have a prescription and stuff is easier for a lot of people," agreed a female co-ed.
"I mean if you're already pregnant your pregnant then it doesn't kill the baby then I don't see why it shouldn't be an over the counter type thing. It will keep accidental births from happening in the first place," said a student on campus.
Opponents to the drugs worry that some women will use the pills repeatedly, which they say may not be safe.
Wendy Wright, Policy Director of Concerned Women of America is worried about abuse of the drug.
"It's available over the counter, there's no way to ensure that it's used in only rare cases," said Wright.
Although Tuesday's FDA vote is only a recommendation, the final decision is up to the FDA commissioner.
For more information about emergency contraception, you can call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE or log on the web at www.not-2-late.com. Both sources can provide guidance about emergency contraception and let you know where you can find it.