Medical Groups Praise Court Ruling Lifting Age Restriction on Emergency Contraception
Over-the-Counter Access to Plan B One-Step a Safe, Effective Tool to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy
April 5, 2013
Washington, DC—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) commend today’s ruling by a U.S. District Court that directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow over-the-counter access without age restriction to the emergency contraception (EC) product Plan B One-Step. This decision reflects the overwhelming evidence that emergency contraception is safe and effective for all women of reproductive age.
“Unintended pregnancies pose a significant risk to the physical and emotional health of adolescents,” said AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP. “While pediatricians recommend that teens delay sexual activity until they fully understand its consequences, we strongly encourage the use of contraception—including emergency contraception—to protect the health of our adolescent patients who are sexually active.”
“Today’s ruling acknowledges clear evidence that emergency contraception is a safe and effective method of backup birth control for all 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.”
“The College has long supported making EC available over the counter without an age restriction, so this is welcome news to us and to young women,” said James T. Breeden, MD, president of The College. “EC is a safe, effective way to help prevent unintended pregnancy after a contraceptive failure, unprotected sex, or sexual assault. We believe all EC products should be available over-the-counter.”
EC 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 this ruling, teens under 17 had to obtain a prescription from a healthcare provider to access all forms of EC.
About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. (www.aap.org)
About the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 56,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. (www.acog.org)
About the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Founded in 1968, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine is a multidisciplinary organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents through advocacy, clinical care, health promotion, health service delivery, professional development and research.