Currently, emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill" or Plan B One-Step, is available for purchase to women 17 years or older with a valid ID. However, females 16 years and younger can also purchase the drug with a prescription.
Last December in an unparalleled move, the Department of Health and Human Services overruled the Food and Drug Administration's proposal to allow the emergency contraceptive, Plan B One-Step, to be available over-the-counter to all ages.
According to Businessweek Magazine, "President Obama said, ‘[Director, Kathleen] Sebelius made that decision on her own.’ But he said he thought she was worried about young girls experiencing harmful side effects, saying, ‘I think most parents would probably feel the same way.’”
Dr. Robert Block of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), disagreed with Sebelius' decision and said "[it is] medically inexplicable."
Many medical experts agree the morning-after pill is safe and could also prevent abortions. For example, the AAP believes making the "morning after pill" available over-the-counter could lower the nation's high rate of unplanned pregnancies.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "When [emergency contraception is] taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the pill is effective in preventing pregnancy by restricting ovulation or blocking the implantation of a fertilized egg."
Here is a brief history of Plan B One-Step:
• 1999 – Approved by the FDA
• 2004 – FDA rejects application to make Plan B One-Step available without a prescription
• 2006 – FDA makes Plan B One-Step available to women 18 and older without a prescription
• 2009 – FDA allows Plan B One-Step available to women 17 and older without a prescription
• 2011 – Department of Health and Human Services overrules the FDA’s proposal to allow the emergency contraceptive over-the-counter
Currently, there are two additional emergency contraception pills available in the marketplace. One called Next Choice is a two-pill generic version which is also sold behind the counter. The second is a prescription-only pill named Ella.