It ain't easy getting emergency contraception

Don't believe everything the pharmacy tells you about whether you can access EC.

UPDATE: Plan B One-Step emergency contraception is now available over the counter without a prescription or age restrictions. Here’s what we know about it so far!

We’ve talked about the ability, or lack thereof, of guys and younger teens to access emergency contraception (EC), but what about women 17 and over? As we hope you know, any woman or man 17 or older should be able to buy certain types of EC over the counter without a prescription, but apparently pharmacists don’t always know that. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association had researchers call pharmacies posing as a 17 year old and asking about EC. Almost 20% of callers were told that they couldn’t get EC without a prescription and pharmacies located in lower income neighborhoods were about twice as likely to say no.

This isn’t necessarily malicious misinformation—it’s possible that the pharmacy employees were misinformed themselves. The researchers behind the study say there could be a link between low income, decreased access to emergency contraception, and higher unplanned pregnancy rates. It’s also possible that the higher rates are due to less access to all kinds of heath care—birth control included—and to differences in how people use birth control in general. Anyway, at least we can take comfort in knowing that 80% of women who called pharmacies around the country were given correct information about access to emergency contraception. And then we can go get some EC for the medicine cabinet—just in case. [Mother Jones]

Want to learn more?

Select one of the related topics to find more.