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Rebecca, 23,

At age 22, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. If I were no longer able to obtain birth control, I don’t know what I would do to control my symptoms.

Laura, 19

I was 18 when I found out. I consistently used condoms with my boyfriend at the time, and less than a year out of high school, I was panicked.

Emergencies happen – even when it comes to your birth control. That's why emergency contraception (EC) is so important. You may also know it as the "morning-after" pill. EC is birth control for emergencies, and it works after sex. Several brands of EC are available: Plan B®, Plan B One-Step™, Next Choice®, and ella®.

  • If you already are pregnant, taking EC will not affect the pregnancy.
  • EC works best the sooner you take it after sex. But you can take it up to five days after sex.
  • You can get most kinds of EC without a prescription if you are 17 or older. Ella® is available only by prescription.
  • Plan B®, Plan B One-Step™, and Next Choice® contain a higher dose of nearly the same medication as your daily birth-control pills.

The Challenge

EC has such great potential, but it's not used as much as it should be. Many women don't know about EC. On top of that, our anti-choice opponents do whatever they can to make it harder for women to access it.

  • If someone you know was a rape survivor, wouldn't you want her to get information about how to prevent a pregnancy? Many hospital emergency rooms do not offer EC to rape survivors. Even worse, not all rape survivors receive even information about EC in the emergency room.
  • Pharmacies in many states are allowed to refuse to sell EC to women. Imagine if your town only has one pharmacy, and it won't sell EC.  
  • Anti-choice activists lie about how EC works and say that it causes abortion. EC does not cause abortion. However, a lot of women, and even doctors and nurses, are still confused about the difference between EC and the abortion pill, RU 486.

Our Solution

There are many ways to make sure that women know about EC and have access to it in a hurry.

  • Hospitals should offer EC to rape survivors.
  • Doctors should talk with women about EC at their yearly check-up.
  • The good news is that people 17 and older can now buy most types of EC over the counter at the pharmacy. That means women don't have to see a doctor and get a prescription first, and men can buy it for a wife or girlfriend. The next step would be to allow pharmacists to provide EC over the counter to women younger than 17 when appropriate.
  • More states should make it easier for low-income women to access EC at an affordable price in the same way they do other medications.

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