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March 24, 2010

Back Up Your Birth Control!

Today is the 9th annual Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action! It's a day to raise awareness about emergency contraception and take action to make sure that everyone has access to EC when they need it.

EC has been in the news a bunch of times since the last day of action, and of course each time the story has been followed by a flood of conservative spin and misinformation. Last spring the FDA announced that 17 year olds would be allowed to buy EC over the counter. The spin was that this would just encourage teenagers to "act carelessly with an easy way out". Some stories came out recently about a new type of EC called ellaOne that's now available in Europe. The spin, of course, was that "more casual sex and more unintended pregnancy will inevitably be the result". The Department of Defense recently announced that they're going to make Plan B available in their hospitals and clinics, which means that women serving in our military will finally have access to EC. The spin: "Women serving in the military deserve to know the truth about their medications. Because this can be the difference between preventing and destroying life, a requirement to carry this drug could violate the conscience rights of military personnel who have moral objections."

The opposition to EC usually boils down to two arguments: EC causes abortions, and EC encourages promiscuity. It doesn't and it doesn't. So campaigns like Back Up Your BC are still important to get the facts out there. Here, have some:

  • EC, sometimes also known as the "morning after pill,", is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy AFTER unprotected sex or the failure of other birth control methods.

  • EC is a higher dosage of the same hormones found in many types of regular birth control pills.

  • When used within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex or birth control failure, EC can significantly reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. EC is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or the failure of other birth control methods. So don't wait!
  • EC is NOT the "abortion pill," MifeprexTM(mifepristone) or RU-486. EC will not terminate an existing pregnancy. EC will not work if a woman is already pregnant and EC will not cause birth defects if a woman takes it when she is already pregnant. EC will not affect a woman's chance of becoming pregnant in the future.

  • For women and men who are 17 or older and have identification, EC is available over-the-counter at pharmacies under the brand names Plan B® One-Step and Next ChoiceTM. Young women under 17 still need a prescription from a doctor or other health care provider in order to buy EC at the pharmacy, except in a few states which have special pharmacy access legislation. Women who live in AK, CA, HI, MA, ME, NH, NM, VT and WA, can get EC directly from a local pharmacy regardless of their age.

Getting involved is easy - you can follow the campaign on twitter (hashtags are #ec and #backitup) and facebook (put it in your status!), write your own blog or op-ed, order some free EC educational material, and sign the petition asking the FDA to remove age restrictions on EC access. Most importantly, don't be afraid or ashamed to go out and get EC if you need it, and to keep speaking out and taking action until everyone has access to the reproductive health care that they need. Back it up!

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