'Morning after pill' to be sold over-the-counter

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Until now, the emergency contraceptive pill "Plan B", also known as the "Morning After Pill", has only been available from a pharmacist, to those 17 or older.

But this week the FDA approved the sale of Plan B to be available without a prescription, to anyone 15 or older. Cashiers will still need to check ID to verify that the buyer is at least 15.

Reaction to the decision has been mixed.

"I'm really uncomfortable with that," says one Valley woman. "Children under the age of 18 making life decisions, and that really needs to be discussed with a parent."

"I think it's better," says another woman. "For the kids who are younger, and scared, can go and get it. And they might be scared to go to their parents, to ask them for help."

But the FDA stands by its ruling. "Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

Planned Parenthood also says it's a step in the right direction. "We want everybody to know about abstinence, but they are having sex," says Carol Bafaloukos, Associate Medical Director for Planned Parenthood Phoenix. "This is something they can do. We never recommend the emergency contraception as their only method of birth control."

On Wednesday's Good Morning Arizona, Dr. Angela DeRosa gave us her take on the FDA decision.

"I have mixed feelings about it, one as a woman and one as a physician," she says. "As a woman, it's nice to have choices and to be able to manage our own health care and our own bodies. But as a physician I'm a little bit concerned that we're putting a fairly large decision in a young person's hands. These are not fully mature adults."

Dr. DeRosa also has concerns with the the possible health risks or long-term effects. "I don't think anybody knows the impact of it," she says. "Certainly if you're taking the morning after pill, say once or twice in your lifetime after an 'oops', I don't think there are going to be any major consequences. But if you're now establishing that as your routine birth control, who knows what that could be?"

The pill won't be available for a few months, as the company updates the packaging and labeling.