By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Camp estimates that there are at least 37.5 million times each year in the United States when women have unprotected sex, realize they might become pregnant, and don't want to. If emergency contraception were available and used in just 35 percent of those instances, it could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by 1.5 million.
"We are just scratching the surface of that need," Camp says. "There has to be a grassroots effort both on a global scale and in this country to bring this totally underutilized method of contraception out of the closet, out of the rape crisis center, and into mainstream medicine."
Access would likewise improve if emergency contraception became available over the counter, as it is in other countries. In April, Camp petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to make Plan B available without a prescription. She anticipates a decision sometime next winter.
But until then local women's health advocates will work to educate women, doctors, pharmacists, and legislators. One of the most misunderstood distinctions involves the difference between the morning-after pill and the abortion pill. Too often the drugs are confused, despite the fact that their mechanisms are fundamentally different: Emergency contraception prevents a pregnancy before it occurs, often by inhibiting ovulation; it doesn't terminate a pregnancy.
"One is contraception, one is abortion," declares Flint Smith. "The only thing they have in common is they're both a pill.
"Emergency contraception is essentially a valuable public health tool that has gotten caught up in the politics of reproductive rights," she continues. "It's really hurting Minnesota women and their ability to take control of their own health. Which is really a shame."