There is some good news on the emergency contraception (EC) commonly known as Plan B. This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B® One-Step, which consists of only one dose. According to Jennifer Rogers, from the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, the approval of this contraceptive is important:
The option to take one pill instead of two gives women a more accessible, straightforward contraceptive. And that’s always important when it comes to helping a woman prevent unintended pregnancy.
In addition, the FDA has also approved Plan B® for over-the-counter (OTC) use by women and men age 17 and older, meaning that the age restriction was lowered by one year.
Even though it can be seen as a small step forward, this “expansion” in the access to emergency contraception, should not merely be celebrated by reproductive health access advocates. Women who are 16 years or younger will still be forced to face many barriers in order to get a prescription for a drug that research has confirmed to be very time sensitive.
Visiting a doctor within a short time frame can be very difficult for many reasons. For example, many physicians do not work in the evenings or the weekends, a woman 16 years-old or younger might have to depend on an older person for transportation, and it might be very hard or impossible for her to miss school or work in order to visit a doctor.
In addition to those barriers, young Latinas have to face a greater economic barrier, for if they have no access to a free clinic, a Title X sponsored clinic, or a Planned Parenthood office, they will most likely have to pay the doctor for a consult before receiving the prescription. Even if she has health insurance, a young Latina might not be able to afford a co-payment
All these barriers only serve to affect Latinas right for privacy, pressure them to rely on others for an important reproductive health need, and build more stress and discomfort in a situation that is already unpleasant. The elimination of the age restriction on OTC use of Plan B is necessary to ensure that Latinas can make the decisions that they want—and need—to make.
By Paula Latortue-Albino