The Morning After Pill, also know as Plan B or emergency contraception, has been around for a while now. When I started college in 2004, it was routinely given out by the school health clinic. I’m not even sure if you had to see a doctor. A quick explanation to a nurse seemed to suffice, and they handed you a little brown paper bag with a couple pills, strict instructions, and a hand-full of condoms.
In the last eight years, emergency contraception has gained awareness, partially because of all the political controversy it seems to inspire. We all know that easy ways for women to control their own reproductive systems are inherently debatable for those of a particular political party in this country. But even as conservatives spread misinformation about the Morning After Pill, even as politicians re-argue issues like birth control that the rest of the country thought had been long-settled, awareness and understanding about emergency contraception has increased.
And guess what? If you give women safe ways to control their chances of having a baby, they’ll use them! If you give us access to useful tools like emergency contraception, we’ll take advantage of them!
A new study says that in 2002, just 4% of sexually active women were using methods like the Morning After Pill to prevent pregnancy. From 2006 to 2010, the use of emergency contraception more than doubled to 11% of sexually active women. The numbers get even higher when you talk about young women in their early 20’s.
The research is not surprising. In fact, I would guess that if we continued the study through 2013, we would see even more growth in the number of women using this new form of contraception.
Is Plan B the Holy Grail of pregnancy prevention? Of course not. Ideally, women should be prepared ahead of time to control reproduction. And emergency contraception can’t do a thing about any sexually transmitted diseases that could have been shared when a couple doesn’t use a condom. That being said, the important thing is that thousands and thousands of women are making their own choices about when they want to get pregnant. They’re stopping unwanted pregnancies before they start.
Part of the Affordable Care Act, a part that has gotten a whole lot of attention recently, is the contraception mandate. Insurance companies must cover birth control for women. And guess what one of those mandated options? Emergency contraception. That’s right, the Morning After Pill is about to get even more popular. And that’s a good thing for everyone who wants the babies born into this world to be wanted and planned for.