Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back Up Your Birth Control

Yesterday was Back Up Your Birth Control Day!, a national campaign to raise awareness and increase access for emergency contraception (EC). Emergency Contraception has tons of aliases: it's known as the 'morning after pill,' back up birth control, emergency birth control, and also by its prescription name Plan B. So what is it really? Emergency Contraception is a form of birth control that can help prevent pregnancy after sex. EC can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. It is safe and effective for women, and is not the abortion pill.

But far too many women still don't know what EC is or how to obtain EC. And we've all heard the myths and rumors about EC that make accessing it and using it all the more confusing. That's why this week we're speaking out to increase awareness and access for EC to all women. Around the nation, activists are raising awareness about EC by hosting events, generating public awareness, and providing truthful information to women. Many of Planned Parenthood's VOX groups are hosting events on their college campuses to supply their student bodies with accurate information.

The celebration of yesterday's eighth anniversary of BUYBC Day has been heightened with a recent court decision. On March 23, a New York state U.S. District court ordered the Food and Drug Administration to rescind previous legislation that limited access to EC to young women. In 2006 the FDA agreed to make Plan B accessible over the counter without a prescription, but only to women and men 18 years old and older. The FDA must now extend that guarantee for over the counter access to 17 year olds. The court also ordered the FDA to reconsider eliminating all age restrictions.

This victory is a supportive measure to all women. Many women still face challenges accessing EC, young women especially. The cost poses a financial burden to low income women, some pharmacies and pharmacists still deny women access to EC at the counter, and unsupplied health centers leave students on college campuses without access. And young women? Well, most teenagers today are left in the dark about their rights (like NO - you don't need parental permission to obtain a prescription for EC), reducing their access to emergency contraception.

So take some time to share your voice for the cause. Check out Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Regions' EC Commercial, and visit Planned Parenthood online to find a local clinic where EC is available. Talk to a friend and share the information you know about EC so that all women are aware of their options!

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