Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Next-Day Contraception Does Not Lead to More Sex

A study being published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that women who have immediate access to emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) are almost twice as likely to use it to prevent pregnancy than women who have to go to a pharmacy to have a prescription filled or women who have to pick up the contraceptive from a clinic -- with no significant differences in sexual activity.

The study divided 2,117 California women between the ages of 15 and 24 into 3 groups: one was given a supply of emergency contraception to take home; a second was given a prescription to be filled at a pharmacy; and a third was told they could pick up the contraceptive pills at a clinic. (This latter group was the control.) The study lasted for 6 months.

Although frequency of sexual intercourse was almost the same in all 3 groups, 37.4% of the women in the group given emergency contraception to take home used it after sex, as opposed to 24.2% of women in the pharmacy group and 21% in the clinic access group.

The argument that over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill (also known as "Plan B") would encourage women and girls to have unprotected sex more often was the major one used by opponents of legal abortion; they used this argument to pressure the Food and Drug Administration into rejecting an application from Barr Pharmaceuticals to make emergency contraception available without a prescription.

Barr Pharmaceuticals has submitted a second application to the FDA to make the contraceptive over the counter; the FDA is still in the process of deciding whether to approve or reject it.

The proof that concerns about increased sexual activity were just a fig leaf for the real reason anti-choicers oppose Plan B -- because they object to women controlling their own reproductive systems and don't care if women have unwanted pregnancies -- is apparent in the fact that these people are STILL protesting the approval of the second application, even though the evidence now shows that women's decision to have sex is not affected by whether access to Plan B is easy or more difficult.

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