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Emergency Contraception on the Drug Store Shelves?Will it Happen? And What Would It Mean for “The Pill”?

The debate over whether women should be able to get “the pill” without a prescription has been going on quietly for years. Now, some women’s health advocates are asking if emergency contraception, birth control that can be used to prevent pregnancy after sex, should be available over-the-counter. The reason? While new emergency contraceptive products are now on the market, many U.S. women still don’t know about them. And, even if they do, they might not be able to get emergency contraception from their doctors – in time for it to make a difference.

A panel of experts, including Carolyn Westhoff, MD, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Public Health, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center; James Trussell, PhD, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Faculty Associate, Office of Population Research, Princeton University; Rod MacKenzie, Chariman of the Board, Gynetics; and Julia Scott, RN, President & CEO, National Black Women’s Health Project discussed at an Emerging Issues in Reproductive Health Briefing the over-the-counter debate, what’s happening in doctor’s offices, and what could tomorrow bring for emergency contraception and the pill.

New survey findings about how frequently doctors are counseling women about emergency contraception and prescribing this method was released.