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March 20, 2007

Back Up Your Birth Control Day

Today is the sixth annual Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action!

Back Up Your Birth Control? What does that mean?

The Back Up Your Birth Control Campaign is designed to raise awareness about emergency contraception (also called "EC" or "the morning-after-pill"), a safe and effective method of back up birth control.

So what exactly is EC anyway?

EC pills contain higher dosages of the same hormones that are found in regular birth control pills. They are meant to be taken within 72 hours (but could have some effectiveness even up to 120 hours) after unprotected sex or failure of birth control, and can reduce the risk of pregnancy by about 90%. The brand of EC available in the U.S. is called Plan B. It is also possible to use some brands of regular birth control pills in specific doses to produce the same effect as Plan B.

Is this the same thing as the abortion pill?

EC is not the same as Mifeprex or RU-486, a drug that terminates early pregnancies. EC is designed to prevent ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg. It does not terminate a pregnancy. If you are already pregnant, EC will not work.

And this really works? Safely?

Research has shown that EC is both safe and effective, and generally produces only mild side effects such as headache and nausea. A full report on EC, including information about its safety and effectiveness, can be found here. Most health care professionals seem to be in agreement that EC is safe, and that EC poses fewer risks for both teens and adult women than unintended pregnancy. (And by preventing thousands of unplanned pregnancies each year, EC can help reduce risks to women's health, cut health care costs, and also reduce the need for abortion services.)

Don't I need a prescription for this?

In August of 2006 the FDA (finally!) approved over-the-counter sales of EC. But there's one catch--OTC sales were approved for adult women only. Girls under 18 still must get a prescription.

Why don't I hear more about EC? This information really needs to be out there!

Because then everyone would be as evil and slutty as we are, and we wouldn't have an excuse to run this blog.

Seriously, information about EC should be more widely available and accessible. That's why campaigns like Back Up Your Birth Control are so important, and deserve your support. Spread the word!

So how do I get EC if I need it?

That depends on how old you are and where you are.

  • Women who are 18 and older can purchase EC over-the-counter at the pharmacy. You'll need to present a valid government ID.
  • Women under the age of 18 need a prescription for EC from their doctor or other health care provider. Many doctors require an office visit before they will give you a prescription, but some will handle it for you over the phone.
  • Women of all ages in the following states can purchase EC over-the-counter at some pharmacies: AK, CA, HI, MA, ME, NH, NM, VT and WA. (This is because of cooperative agreements between some doctors and some pharmacists in these states.)
  • To find a provider near you, visit www.not-2-late.com or call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE (1-866-EN-TRES-DIAS for Spanish)
For more information, visit www.ineedec.info and www.backupyourbirthcontrol.org. And make sure that all of the women in your life have the information that they need about all of their birth control options.

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