Decision Consistent with Strong Medical Evidence Supporting Emergency Contraception as Safe, Effective Tool to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) commend last night’s decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to stop its appeal of a recent U.S. District Court ruling requiring expanded over-the-counter access to emergency contraception products without an age restriction.
The medical organizations stand behind their support of the Court’s ruling, citing overwhelming scientific evidence in support of the safety and efficacy of emergency contraception for all women of reproductive age. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it will allow the sale of one-pill versions of emergency contraception without age restriction, starting with Plan B One-Step.
“For pediatricians, the science has always been clear: emergency contraception is a safe, effective tool to prevent unintended pregnancy in adolescents of any reproductive age. Today, we are pleased that justice sided with science,” said AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP. “Since nearly 80% of pregnancies in adolescents are unintended, allowing unrestricted access to emergency contraception products is a historic step forward in protecting the health of our patients who are sexually active.”
“Today’s decision by the Justice Department allows adolescents to easily access a product that is safe and effective as a backup birth control for adolescents and women of reproductive age,” said SAHM President Debra Katzman, MD, FSAHM. “Removing the age restriction is a positive step forward, but providers must continue efforts to educate adolescents about the proper use of emergency contraception. We must also work to ensure that emergency contraception is affordable for adolescents of limited means.”
“ACOG has long supported making emergency contraception available over the counter without an age restriction, so this is welcome news,” said ACOG President Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, FACOG. “Emergency contraception is a safe, effective way to help prevent unintended pregnancy after a contraceptive failure, unprotected sex, or sexual assault. We believe all emergency contraception products, including the generic versions, should be available over the counter.”
Emergency contraception use can reduce the risk of pregnancy up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure, and is most effective if used in the first 24 hours. Prior to the policy change required by the District Court ruling, teens under 17 had to obtain a prescription from a healthcare provider to access all forms of emergency contraception.