WASHINGTON - August 24 - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called the first anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive Plan B® a reminder of the triumph for women's health over political ideology. For more than three years, the Bush administration interfered in the FDA-approval process, overriding the judgment of the agency's scientific and medical experts and denying women better access to this safe and effective form of back-up birth control.
Keenan cautioned that while the FDA's decision, which was announced on August 24, 2006, marked a major step forward, many women still do not have access to emergency contraception (EC). As such, NARAL Pro-Choice America is mobilizing its activists across the country in the Plan B. Where's Yours? campaign – an effort to educate women about the medication's availability and pressure national pharmacy chains to adopt policies requiring their stores to stock Plan B®. (For more information about Plan B. Where's Yours? please click here.
"Today's anniversary reminds us all that more needs to be done to ensure that women across the country have access to this safe, effective form of back-up birth control. Unfortunately, anti-choice pharmacists continue to block women's access to emergency contraception and national pharmacy chains refuse to adopt policies informing customers of their right to obtain this medication," Keenan said.
Already NARAL Pro-Choice America's volunteer-led surveys have identified pharmacies across the country that do not stock Plan B® and individual pharmacists who refuse to dispense it. Two women who were denied Plan B® at their local pharmacies have spoken out about their experiences and have joined NARAL Pro-Choice America to call on national pharmacy chains to end this discriminatory practice.
"Anti-choice groups and their allies are doing everything they can to block access to this safe and effective birth-control option," Keenan said. "And unfortunately, the FDA's approval of over-the-counter distribution of Plan B® has not stopped rogue pharmacists from infringing upon the rights of women."
Keenan also praised lawmakers at the state and federal levels who are considering legislation to improve women's access to Plan B®. Five states – Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, and Minnesota – have enacted laws this year that, among other things, ensure rape survivors' access to EC-related information in hospital emergency rooms.