On Feb. 20 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was scheduled to approve an emergency contraceptive pill, also known as the morning after pill, for over-the-counter sales. Until now, the pill has been available by prescription only.
The FDA, however, delayed the decision for 90 days to reconsider the repercussions of making the drug more accessible.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a group of 49 members of congress sent a letter to President Bush against the pill, saying that it would result in an increase of irresponsible sexual activity. Additionally, because the pill does not protect against sexually transmitted disease, they said in the letter they feel there will be an increase in STDs if the pill was approved for over the counter sale.
The plan consists of two pills designed to be taken at 12-hour intervals, within 72 hours after unprotected sex, rape or contraceptive failure.
The emergency contraceptive pill is not RU-486, or the abortion pill, although many have confused the two. The emergency contraceptive pill can prevent conception if taken within the 72-hour time span, by preventing implantation. It does not terminate a pregnancy that has already occurred.
This pill, which is nothing more than a high dose of the hormones found in regular birth control pills, does not compare to an abortion. Allowing its over-the-counter sales would decrease the need to resort to abortions.
Its side effects and health risks are similar to those of birth control pills. And the emotional toll of this option cannot be compared with that of an abortion or an unwanted pregnancy.
Although feared that some will use the pill as a form of regular birth control, making the pill available will undoubtedly decrease the number of abortions. According to a Feb. 19 Feminist Majority Foundation article, approving the use of the pill could possibly prevent 800,000 abortions annually.
Women should have access to this pill for reasons such as rape.
The concern of women using it as their main form of birth control can be regulated by the price. According to the FDA Web site, the price of the pill was suggested at $25, which would cost much more than birth control pills, Depo-Provera shots or condoms.