Got Birth Control? Today, Back It Up!


Wednesday, March 25 is Back Up Your Birth Control Day!

Back Up Your Birth Control
(BUYBC)
is a national campaign to raise awareness of and expand access to
emergency contraception (EC). As
we celebrate the eighth annual BUYBC Day of Action, hundreds of advocates and health
care providers across the country will help spread the message that EC is a
safe and effective way for women to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
This is a crucial time to expand education about EC. In the current economic
climate when women are losing jobs and health
insurance
coverage, they need to know how to back up their birth control
(or replace the regular birth control methods they can no longer afford) with
EC more than ever. We hope you’ll join us in raising awareness of what has
often been called "the best kept secret in women’s health" – emergency contraception.

On August 24, 2006, when the FDA approved Plan B for over-the-counter (OTC)
sale without a prescription to women and men ages 18 and older, I was working
to expand access to EC for low-income women and teens in Title X clinics. A
colleague approached me that afternoon and said "well, I guess you’ll be
looking for a new job. Now that EC is available over-the-counter, the access
problem is solved!" How I wish that were true.

From the first BUYBC Day in 2002 to today we can look proudly at Rosie the
Riveter, our BUYBC "poster woman," and say, "You’ve come a long way, baby." Sales
of Plan B have doubled since it became available OTC and surveys show most
major pharmacy chains are now stocking it. Advocacy organizations, departments
of health, campus groups, pharmacist’s associations, and medical providers have
created a wide variety of EC education and outreach campaigns. Yet despite
these efforts and increased availability, myths about EC are still prevalent and
very real barriers to access remain.

Results of annual surveys of BUYBC participants consistently rank lack of
awareness of EC and of how to access EC as the primary barriers to EC access,
ahead of other barriers like cost or age restrictions. Women can’t be empowered
to back up their birth control and prevent unintended pregnancy if they don’t
know about EC, and have the facts on how it works or where they can access it.

More
education is needed to address the barriers to EC access by teens, low-income
and immigrant women created by the FDA decision. The
recent court ruling in the Center for Reproductive Rights case against the FDA
will soon expand access to EC OTC to 17 year old women. The ruling also means
that the FDA will need to reconsider the sale of Plan B OTC to women of all ages;
however, no timeline is provided for how soon that might happen. In the
meantime, teens must still obtain a prescription in order to access EC, despite
a lack of any scientific evidence demonstrating EC is unsafe for them.

The
high cost of EC OTC, usually $40-70, poses a significant barrier to low-income
women, or to those whose budgets are tight right now. Only eight state Medicaid
programs currently cover EC OTC, and efforts to expand this number are being
severely challenged by state budget cuts. The need to show government issued ID
as proof of age is a barrier for undocumented women and men. And the fact that
Plan B is kept behind the pharmacy counter creates a barrier to access outside
regular pharmacy hours, and the potential for pharmacists refusing to dispense
EC. Since EC is most effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex,
the delay caused by seeking a prescription, trying to get the money together,
or finding a pharmacy that’s open can significantly increase a woman’s risk of
unintended pregnancy. Education and outreach campaigns, like BUYBC, can help
women identify sources of free or low-cost EC, raise awareness among teens of
their right to access contraception including EC, and help undocumented people
exercise their rights to reproductive healthcare.

We
must also continue to dispel myths about EC, particularly the misinformation promoted
by anti-choice forces categorizing EC as an abortifacient.
Despite solid scientific evidence which proves that EC works primarily by preventing
ovulation and secondarily preventing fertilization and that EC will not
interrupt or harm an established pregnancy, proposed state laws like the "fetal
personhood
" amendment defeated in Colorado and a new law in Texas, and federal
laws such as the Bush era HHS
regulations
continue to attempt to classify EC as an abortifacient. Lawmakers
continue to allow carve outs for emergency contraception in Family Planning
Waivers, refusal laws, and by health insurance companies. Even the recent
victory fixing the provision in the 2005
Deficit Reduction Act
, which restored discount birth control pricing for
college and safety net clinics and was a victory for women’s access, doesn’t
impact EC prices since EC was never included in the birth control methods that
qualify for nominal pricing. This means that while we wait to see whether the
drug companies will restore the discounts and for lower cost birth control to
come back to campus next school year, EC will remain an important but
potentially expensive option.

Millions
of young people in abstinence-only programs have also been receiving
this misinformation about how EC works. A nationwide survey conducted by the Kaiser
Family Foundation
found that over 25% of teens surveyed believed that EC
causes abortion. This misconception must also be addressed in order to increase
access to EC for rape survivors. Currently only 16
states require emergency rooms (ER) to provide EC to rape survivors even though
timely access to EC is critical to reduce the additional trauma of a pregnancy
due to rape. Women must know they have the right to request EC, or EC
information, and lawmakers in the remaining states must be urged to stop
putting politics before science and make EC in the ER available for all
survivors.

Now is a crucial time to raise awareness of EC, not just because women need
affordable access to birth control more than ever but also because there is
hope for expanded access on the horizon. President Obama’s stated
commitment
to "ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or
concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions
based on facts, not ideology," seems to be a direct rebuff to the political
machinations within the FDA that created the OTC barriers and the politics that
have prevented women from having timely and affordable access to EC for too
long. In addition to the win in the courts, new
staff at FDA could be poised to remove some of these barriers. The possibility
of a generic form of EC becoming available this fall when the patent on Plan B
expires could also improve access for low-income women. Advocates across the
country are continuing to fight for Medicaid coverage for EC OTC, and to ensure
that universal health care plans include coverage for EC.

While advocates work for policy gains, we must continue to raise awareness
about EC and empower women with a second chance to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Please join the activists across the country who are participating in the Back
Up Your Birth Control Day of Action. Visit this link to learn how.

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To schedule an interview with Amy Boldosser please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • invalid-0

    Here is information directly from the FDA website (http://www.fda.gov/CDER/DRUG/infopage/planB/planBQandA.htm)

    “If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).”

  • invalid-0

    “If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).”

    If a fertilized egg has not implanted, then there is no “established pregnancy.”

  • invalid-0

    Finally, the time has arrived to fix Americas Healthcare crisis, and Americas healthcare nightmare. Hundreds of thousands of you are killed needlessly every year by your healthcare delivery system in a rush to profit. And because of a rush to profit Hundreds of thousands more of you are needlessly dying from treatable illness that people in other developed and civilized countries don’t DIE! from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.

    Additionally, thousands more of you are driven into financial ruin, and bankruptcy just because you, or one of your loved ones got sick or injured. And all of this is happening at a time when America spends twice as much of it’s GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) on health care than any other country in the developed world. Individual Americans spend about ten times as much on health care as any other people in the developed world. This is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. AND IT MUST END!

    But before we can truly fix this healthcare crisis and disgrace, everyone needs to clearly understand what the problem is. And everyone needs to clearly understand the real enormity of the problem. The problem is that HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY IN AMERICA IS SEVERELY CORRUPTED AND COMPROMISED BY GREED! AND THE PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MOTIVE. And it is corrupted, and compromised IN EVERY ASPECT, AND EVERY PLACE OF HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY. Unfortunately for all Americans, compromised healthcare ALWAYS results in needless suffering, injury, disability, and or death. Which is exactly what is happening now in America in shocking numbers.

    Health care is NOT! a private for profit business. Healthcare is an essential public service. Like police, and fire. And healthcare is also a human right! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON, AND AN IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL PERVERSION OF HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

    So how do we fix this healthcare disgrace? I believe the fix for Americas healthcare disaster is essentially the same thing that every other developed country in the World has essentially done. “NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL”. Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and improved medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix and reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system.

    All Universal health care systems work best when everyone participates. But I know that the healthcare lobby, and some politicians will try and undermine “Not For Profit, Tax payer supported, Single payer, Automatic, Free Universal Healthcare for all” by falsely claiming that it will limit your choice, and require you to participate.

    So, I propose that everyone be included in the national plan unless they choose to opt out. If you opt out and need medical care the national plan will insure your provider that they will be reimbursed under the rules for members in the national plan. But those who opted out, and their insurer will be responsible for the FULL! cost to the national plan for providing your care if you or your private insurer fails to reimburse the provider or the national plan in a timely manor to at least the standards of the national plan.

    Including reporting you to credit agencies, withholding of taxes, leans, and garnishment of wages for unpaid medical bills. Just like you have now under private for profit healthcare, and private for profit health insurance.

    Further, people who opted out will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for future illness or be required to participate in the national plan. And everyone with children will be required to participate in the national plan. Or provide proof of insurance coverage on each child to the standards of the national plan. It will be against the law to report anyone in the national plan to a credit agency for unpaid medical bills.

    Frankly, only a dope would want to opt out of the national plan and opt to keep our current disastrous private for profit medical, and insurance plans. But they will be free to choose. The most important thing is that the vast majority of Americans that want the protection, benefits, and higher quality of a universal national plan have that choice.

    You see, one of the most important aspects of a universal healthcare system is easy access, and patient protection. This is accomplished by having a single payer without a conflict of interest in patient care. And by having a payer who has the power to enforce minimum standards of excellence in healthcare delivery for everyone in the plan. This is much of what Medicare does now for senors. “Aeger Primo” (The patient comes first). Unfortunately in our healthcare system the patient comes last. We are just a peace of meat to them. Cash cows to be slaughtered for profit.

    So this is IT! my fellow Americans, My fellow human beings, My fellow World Citizens. And my fellow Cyber Warriors. :-) The time has come. D day. H hour. HEALTHCARE REFORM THIS YEAR! Let no one stand in our way. Contact your representative and tell them you want “Not For Profit, Tax Payer Supported, Single Payer, Automatic, Free Universal healthcare for all. And tell them you want that choice now. Tell them you want President Obama’s budget passed without delay. President Obama’s budget is brilliant. And exactly what is needed now.

    President Obama, and his allies will need all the support you can give them. The healthcare lobby will try to take out his people if they can, like they did with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer. And they will try to neutralize President Obama’s popularity, and political power. Or they will try to take him down someway. Don’t stand for it. If they attack him. Go after them ten times harder and remove them from office. We had an election. And you the people chose President Obama’s leadership, and change agenda. Let no one in government disrespect the will of the American people and remain in office.

    SPREAD THE WORD! And talk it up with your families, friends, and coworkers. Keep ratcheting up the pressure until there is a ROAR! across America for “NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL”.

    Let’s get this healthcare reform done now my fellow Americans. This year. Take no prisoners.

    God Bless All Of You

    Jack Smith — Working Class :-)

    http://jacksmithworkingclass.blogspot.com/
    (http://jacksmithworkingclass.blogspot.com/)

  • invalid-0

    If you are going to encourage young people to use back up birth control you should encourage condom use because it will also provent STD’s and EC won’t do that. Most people needing EC will need it because they used no contraception not because the birth control they did use failed. Imagine the deluge oflawsuits if birth control was that unreliable. Forget ambulance chasing; lawyers would be hanging around at crisis pregnancy centers. Emergency contraception is for emergencies. Making it available to young people who routinely don’t use birth control will prevent pregnancy but STD’s will skyrocket. What you’re saying is “Use birth control, but if you don’t, this is available.” It’s almost like saying: “Don’t drink and drive, but if you do, wear a seatbelt.”