Empowering ourselves, one pill at a time

According to the Washington Post, the FDA has postponed ruling on whether to allow access without prescription to the so-called morning after pill, Plan B. In a move that the Post describes as a common practice for the Bush administration, FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford announced the delay late last Friday.


“At 3 p.m., when Congress was out of town and millions of Americans (and more than a few journalists) were headed for the beach or the mountains, the agency sent out an e-mail message that it would be holding a news conference at its Rockville headquarters one hour later.”


With a mere seven journalists present, the agency said it was delaying ruling ” because of unresolved regulatory issues.”


The Post , however, had this to say regarding the administration’s late-hour antics:


“The Bush administration is hardly the first to release potentially bad or controversial news late on Fridays—when news operations, and the public, tend to be least tuned in—but it has emerged as one of the more consistent practitioners.


“On Friday, June 10, for instance, the Agriculture Department announced at 8 p.m. that mad cow disease had possibly been found in a second American animal—news that could upset the beef market. The timing was unusual because the animal had first been tested more than six months before.


“When USDA released the news two weeks ago that the animal did indeed have mad cow disease, it was again on a Friday afternoon when many reporters couldn’t make it to the department headquarters, and a teleconference was set up. After a statement from Secretary Mike Johanns, reporters began asking questions. Soon after, the telephone hookup failed and was never restored.”


It remains to be seen what the outcome will be regarding Plan B, but, like so many other laws and regulations made throughout history in regard to women’s health, it’s time for women to take matters into their own hands no matter what the final decision, as they have done for centuries.


In the early 1900s Margaret Sanger pioneered birth control access and information in an age when women routinely gave birth to a child a year, even though she was jailed on many occasions and was forced to flee to Europe.


In 1969 in Chicago women created a system where women could call ” Jane,” and get information and referral to a safe, albeit illegal, abortion.


This year it’s Plan B, which prevents implantation of a fertilized egg, and therefore pregnancy, if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. While many believe it’s another form of abortion—considering a fertilized egg a child—the fact is that many women, when faced with a potential unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, will decide to terminate. Plan B alleviates the need for an actual, surgical abortion, in addition to the cost and emotional distress the procedure inevitably brings.

Every woman should keep Plan B in their medicine cabinet, if not for themselves (c’mon, we’ve all had a condom break, or realized we’ve forgotten to take the pill one day), but for their fellow women. Many pharmacies, and even states, do not carry Plan B, and outright refuse to provide it. Others go so far as to deny women access to birth control. How far back have we slid?


It’s up to women to take care of other women, and ensure that if the panicked phone call comes at 7 a.m. from one of your girlfriends, freaking out over the night before, you’ve got her covered. It’s illegal, yes, but it’s also immoral for a bunch of rich white men to dictate women’s lives. Or, in lieu of that, direct her to this Website.