Over-the-counter Plan B approved for ages 15+, sparks controversy

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Drugstore aisles will soon make room for the so-called "morning after pill."

The move is stirring controversy mostly because it'll allows girls who aren't even old enough to drive yet to buy the Plan B pill without prescription.

The Food and Drug Administration has lowered the age at which girls can buy the pill from 17 to 15-years-old.

The agency will also allow the pill to be sold over-the-counter instead of behind-the-counter much like condoms and pregnancy tests.

Buyers must prove they’re 15 or older at the cash register.

Now the FDA has come under fire.

"I think the parent should know if they're going to take some kind of pill like that,” said Nick Pappas, a concerned parent.

But supporters are welcoming the decision.

“Society if changing and kids are being sexually active younger, guys can buy condoms why can't girls have birth control?” said supporter Abby Nehls-Lowe.

Stan Carpenter said it should be up to a woman to decide what to do with her body, saying the decision couldn’t have come any sooner.

Also on cases of rape and incest, some supporters said girls would need access to the emergency contraceptive.

Critics say Plan B is the equivalent of an abortion pill but some health experts say it depends on how you define abortion.

“It changes the lining of the uterus so it will prevent implantation of the fertilized egg if there was a fertilized egg,” said Dr. Irfane Khatib, MD with Obstetrical and Gynecological Clinic of Eau Claire. “If pregnancy starts at fertilization, that's one thing or if it's implantation, it's a different thing. If we're talking about implantation which requires egg to further develop, then it’s not an abortion pill.”

Khatib said there are side effects to the pill that would normally affect older women, especially smokers. Side effects of the emergency contraceptive include nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue and a change in menstrual flow.

As for 15-year-olds, he said the side effects are rare.

“It’s very very unlikely they will have problem with it and that’s probably the reason why the FDA approved it over the counter,” said Khatib.

He said it's best to educate your child and yourself on sex on what the Plan B pill is before using it.

This all comes after a federal judge in New York ordered an end to all age restrictions by next Monday.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman blasted the Obama administration for imposing the age-17 limit. He said the restriction makes it hard for women of any age to obtain the emergency contraception in time.

The makers of Plan B said it would begin over-the-counter sales in a few months.

The company also plans to conduct a consumer-education program and says it's willing to audit whether stores are following the age requirement.

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