Why is the United States so behind when it comes to emergency contraception?
While Plan B One Step has just been released in the US, Europe has a new pill that can be taken up to five days after having sex. ellaOne, is an effective emergency contraception that can prevent pregnancy nearly a week after a woman has engaged in unprotected sex.
Developed by HRA Pharma, a private European pharmaceutical company designed and was granted marketing privileges by the European Commission in May 2009.
While Plan B Onestep is the drug levonorgestrel, ellaOne is a drug known as ulipristal acetate and is shown to be effective even after a normal 72 hour framework. ellOne is available by prescription only, unlike Plan B which is available over the counter to individuals over 17. According to research conducted about ulipristal, comparison trials show that the drug is superior to levonorgestrel both overall and when used within 24 hours of unprotected sex.
Sounds pretty great - it's effective and allows women to prevent pregnancy for a longer period of time.
Of course, anti-choice groups are worried that it will make women more promiscuous; "more time to be slutty".
It's disheartening that this may be one of the reasons ellaOne does not arrive in the United States due to a fear of encouraging sexual behavior. Instead of this attitude, we should be focused on the realities of sexual behavior and allow for women to have access to the necessary resources they need to protect themselves after unprotected sex. Instead of denying women access to reproductive healthcare, we should be increasing safe and accurate sex education in schools and communities. With access, women won't use emergency contraception like a pill, and will be more likely to have safe sex consistently.
For now, we'll have to settle for the options we have: With Plan B One Step, women simply take the one pill within 72 hours of unprotected sex. A generic EC is available as well and is a little bit cheaper than Plan B.