After pediatrician Dr. Tracy Wilkinson, the lead study author, heard strange information from her teenage patients about emergency contraception, she decided to investigate. She and several researchers called over 940 pharmacies in five cities posing as 17-year-old girls who wanted information about the morning after pill. At the time, emergency contraception was available to all people 17 years and older, so they researchers should have been able to buy it easily on their own.
Instead, they found that some pharmacists incorrectly told them that they had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to obtain emergency contraception or that an older friend could not buy it for them. Some said they did not stock or dispense it for moral reasons or religious beliefs. There was also some confusion around the rules, with several pharmacists saying the researchers needed to be 18 or have a prescription to buy it.
"About 20 percent of the pharmacy staff said that, because the callers identified themselves as teens, the callers couldn't get it at all. That's completely incorrect," Wilkinson said. "Of the remaining 80 percent of respondents, about half of them got the exact age requirement correct and half of them did not."
This confusion around emergency contraception regulations makes it harder for young women to access it and take it in time for it to be effective. In a fortunate decision this July, the Obama administration made Plan B One-Step available over the counter to all people of all ages with no photo identification required, but other brands have different rules, only adding to some of the confusion. Medical professionals recommend women obtain emergency contraception in advance so they can easily access it when necessary.
Media Resources: Medical XPress 12/20/13; ThinkProgress 12/20/13
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .