U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the Plan B morning-after pill available over-the-counter to 17-year-olds, saying the FDA let politics get in the way when it denied girls access to the pill last Monday.
According to the Associated Press, the pill was previously available by Barr Pharmaceuticals only to women 18 years of age and older without a prescription. Korman said the FDA had repeatedly put off the decision to allow access to the pill and said the new order must be fulfilled within 30 days of the ruling.
According to the pill's Web site, "Plan B is an emergency contraception that can prevent a pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, but it isn't an abortion pill and can't terminate an existing pregnancy."
The sooner the pill is taken, the more effective it can be and can reduce the chance of pregnancy up to 89 percent.
Pharmacist Nancy Kickliter, the director of the Auburn University Pharmacy, said up until the ruling the law had allowed Plan B to be dispensed or purchased by anyone over the age of 18, and it was only available to 17-year-olds with a prescription.
"Plan B contains two tablets; you take the first tablet as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex, and you take the second tablet 12 hours after you take the first tablet," Kickliter said.
The main side effect is nausea, which can be minimized by taking the pill with food.
According to the pill's Web site, other side effects include abdominal pain, fatigue, dizziness and vomiting similar to side effects experienced by many birth control pills.
Although the legislation is lowering the age when women can obtain the pill, Kickliter does not think lowering the age to 17 will have any impact on the sale of Plan B.
Walgreens Pharmacist Lila Wright said Plan B is a progestin known as levonorgestrel. A lower dosage of this hormone can be found in birth control pills.
Plan B should not be used for regular birth control, only for emergency contraception if birth control is taken incorrectly or as a result of condom failure.
"This is not an abortion pill," Wright said. "It does not cause the fetus to drop out or the release of the embryo, and I have no moral or ethical issues about dispensing the pill."
Joyce Jeter, the nurse administrator for Auburn City Schools, feels that at any age a person should have adult help with the decision, but thinks 17-year-olds should utilize the pill if it is available.
Jeter said current studies have shown an increase in teen pregnancy in the 17 to 19-year-old age group, but it does not mean there is an increase in sexual activity, just that those who are having sex are not practicing safe sex.
"The pill itself is great for those who use it for a purpose," Jeter said. "My only concern would be the abuse of the pill, but I have not researched to see if there is a safe guard to prevent its abuse."
The pill can be found at most pharmacies for $40 to $50.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.