Controversy surrounds Plan B pill - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Controversy surrounds Plan B pill

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August 28, 2006

Albany--A ruling by the Food and Drug Administration sparks a morale debate. The FDA approved Plan B for sale over the counter.

Plan B is a pill that can prevent pregnancy if its taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex.

To take the pill, or not to take the pill. There's no easy answer. For many here in the Bible belt:

"It is a religious question," says pastor Jim Coleman.

Some critics, including Jim Coleman with First United Methodist Church, worry access to Plan B may encourage sexual activity.

"Teenagers especially who are not used to making decisions need to somehow think twice before they take at face value something that society says might be right to do," he says.

Others believe the pill gives women more options.

"Woman now have a second chance NOT to get pregnant to start with.  Woman and adolescents are several more likely to use contraceptives if they have the pack in their hand," says Lora Davis.

Because the pill can be taken within three days of having unprotected sex, some critics liken the pill to abortion. However, Lora Davis, with Therapeutic Collaborative, believes it will actually reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

"Emergency contraceptives could prevent as many as half of the nearly three million of the unintended pregnancies, and of those three million, about 700,000 generally result in abortion,"   she says.

Pastor Coleman believes good can come from the controversy.

"This is a challenge to parents to say in a positive way, 'I need to be involved in talking with my teenagers about their behavior, intimacy, about relationships,'" says Coleman.

Davis believes the FDA made the right move in making the pill more available, and says many women will benefit.

"I trust the FDA would not put something on the market that would be harmful to mine or any other female's health," she says.

The pill has been available with a prescription since 1999. Young women under age 18 still must get a prescription in order to buy Plan B.

ONE PHARMACIST REACTS TO PLAN B:

Not all pharmacists are eager to dispense the morning after pill.

Plan B must be kept behind the counter at pharmacies, but one pharmacist we spoke to doesn't think it's a good idea to sell it without a prescription at all.

David Hays says women should consult their physician to avoid any health risks.

He also fears under-aged teens may find ways to get the pills illegally, and he says some pharmacists have a moral objection to it.

"We have enough promiscuity as it is. I'm afraid it's going to allow promiscuity to be more rampant then what we already have. I have an ethical issue with trying to dispense it. And I just don't know yet whether I'm going to offer it through my store," says Hays.

CVS drug stores already have procedures to allow pharmacists to avoid dispensing the pill if they object to it on religious or moral grounds.

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