Peace of mind will be available free of charge this month for women who may need it.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami and the Florida Keys announced on Monday that six area clinics will provide the “morning after pill” at no cost until May 15.
The FDA-approved pill, first made available by prescription only in 1997, can prevent unintended pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
According to Planned Parenthood President and CEO Joan Sampieri, the limited offer is made possible thanks to a donor’s gift. The contribution was made in response to a Feb. 13 federal government decision to postpone making emergency contraceptives available over-the-counter. The 90-day review of that decision is expected in mid-May.
“It is our hope that making it available without charge will increase the public’s knowledge of this important form of contraceptive, encourage its wider use and help to fill the gap until such a time as the FDA approves the drug for over-the-counter sales,” Sampieri said.
Organizations like National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association attribute the postponement to conservative influences. Some conservative advocacy groups argue that increased access to the pill may lead to more unprotected sex amongst teens.
Plan B, the brand name of the pharmaceutical being considered for over-the-counter status, is the same pill Planned Parenthood will supply for free. Taken in two doses, it can reduce the chance of pregnancy by 89 percent when used correctly. Effectiveness declines the longer a woman waits after intercourse to administer the drug.
Plan B usually costs $61 at area Planned Parenthood clinics, a fee that includes an exam and pregnancy test.
The Student Health Center and on-campus pharmacy supply the drug for significantly less – $10 for a pregnancy test and $20 for Plan B.
“We prescribe it pretty much on a daily basis,” Dr. Howard Anapol, Health Center director, said. “Maybe 20 or so a month, but it depends.”
He believes Planned Parenthood’s offer is a good move that takes away the financial burden of emergency contraception, he said.
“In these situations, we see it as our role to offer it to people, to take down barriers to it,” he said. “But really it’s a very personal decision whether to use it.”
Sophomore Gina Menge thinks the morning after pill is a good alternative for those who are not ready to deal with the consequences of unwanted pregnancy.
“Services like that should always be free,” Menge said. “It could save a lot of future headaches.”
Junior Elizabeth Singh agrees.
“It could prevent a lot of abortions and save girls from that pain if they can get this pill for free,” Singh said.
To make an immediate appointment with Planned Parenthood to obtain Plan B, call (305) 285-5535. For more information on emergency contraception, visit www.not-2-late.com.
Samantha Riepe can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.