Morning after-pill (MAP) or plan B is an emergency pill that stops a woman from becoming pregnant if contraception failed or wasn’t used. The morning after pill works best if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. Medics argue that plan B’s efficacy is up 70% and its effectiveness up to 72 hours there after its efficacy is not known. (http://www.netdoctor.co.k/whoisd.html). It is noteworthy that the earlier it’s taken the better. Examples of medicine currently used include levonelle one step in UK and postinor2 in most Africa states.
The pills contain a female-type hormone such as levorgestrel. Other names used to refer to MAP include post-coital pill (PCP) and emergency contraceptive (EC)-emergency because it is not used under normal circumstances and has stricter conditions under which they can be used for instance, the postinor2 mostly used in Africa states can only be used once within every menstrual cycle.
Remember MAP cannot work if one is already pregnant and therefore it is not an abortion-causing drug. MAP works in two possible ways; preventing ovaries from releasing egg or altering the lining of the womb so a fertilized egg wont be implanted.
I want to argue that MAP must be made readily available to interested consumers. Let us first consider the categories of people who use it and their circumstances.
1) Rape victims
A lady may be raped during her fertile days such unplanned and unprotected sex may result in unwanted pregnancy. An instance such as this justifies the use of MAP. MAP would help prevent pregnancy, which may alleviate the possibility of abortion (as the one raped may opt for it), and the humiliation a child who is as a result of rape may face from parent(s).
2) Women who have been lured into sex while under the influence of emotional whims or drugs. Women under such influence of drug and alcohol may find themselves having unprotected sex. Men may want to take advantage of them. Once such women regain sobriety, MAP may be handy in preventing anxiety and pregnancy. Everyone will agree that at some point in their life, at least every woman, because of circumstances such as the ones we have, may lose their sobriety. Isn’t it kind of medics for providing such women an alternative and possibility for preventing unwanted pregnancy?
3) Lovers or a couple may suffer condom burst/breakage. If this happens, without MAP there would be no other easy way of preventing pregnancy. The fact that such people were using a condom implies that they never wanted conception to occur. Isn’t MAP a relief to most couples?
I will reiterate that MAP does not induce abortion and therefore Christians opposed to abortion and other pro-life activists have no reason to be indifferent. As a matter of fact, they should advocate for it as it has come in to reduce cases of abortion emanating from rape, condom burst and unplanned sexual intercourse. When these happen, MAP provides the consolation that, ‘its not too late, there is plan B’.
With advancement in the medical field unlike the older MAP, today’s pills cause very little side-effects. Statistics show that one woman in every 60 actually vomits. Other mild side effects include tummy ache, breast tenderness, dizziness and vaginal spotting of blood. These side effects are less severe as compared with the risks of not using MAP. Critics of MAP feel there is no need for one to subject themselves to such side effects but the risks in not using it may be too heavy to bear. MAP can be used by a greater percentage of women apart from for instance those with porphyria and severe liver problems.
Having explored MAP, we should be right to state that access to it must be made easy. Local pharmacists should be allowed to stock it and allow clients to buy it without necessarily needing a doctor’s prescription. (American Medical Association, 2006; Ellertson, Trussell, Stewart &Winikoff, 1998). After all, the side effects are not problematic are again most ladies are knowledgeable of how to use it and for what purposes. Although others feel this may prompt its abuse but we can argue that Pharmacists can chat with client quickly about it to know whether they understand its appropriate use and the side effects.
It’s encouraging to learn that in America, an over-the-counter sale of the ‘morning after’ contraceptive pill to those over 18 has been approved. Abortion rights advocates hailed this although many bemoaned the age restrict. “We are pleased that a common sense common-ground agenda for reducing unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion finally won out.” Said Kinsten Moore, President of the reproductive health technology project, Washington. (www.nytimes.com/2006/08/24/health/24cnd-pill.htm)
Anti-abortion groups feel plan B is an abortion pill whose widespread availability would lead to increased STD. Other abortion rights pushed for over-the-counter availability of plan B arguing that its availability would sharply reduce the newly 1 million abortions performed annually in USA but this may not be true as studies suggest that in the USA, couples have so much unprotected sex. “EC don’t work if are kept in the draw” and studies show that even if women have pills on hand, the drawer is where they remain.” Says Dr James Trussell, Princeton University. But Dr Raines says, “Unintended pregnancy rates have been dropping over the last decade. Plan B will contribute to further decline. (www.nytimes.com/2006/08/24/health/24cnd-pill.htm)
The term morning –after pill is inmost cases misleading in its effectiveness. It’s
Not 100% and only works up to 70%. Therefore some women have unprotected sex hoping to use MAP but unfortunately they end up becoming pregnant and this may lead to abortion or disorient one’s family plan. Some women are opposed to it because it doesn’t protect them from pregnancy for the rest of their menstrual cycle. It therefore compels them to abstain from sex or use a barrier method like a condom. Again, it is believed that MAP is not good at protecting ectopic pregnancy (EP) (Stewart and Van Look, 1998 P142).
Incase it causes EP, then the repercussions quite expensive and ladies who know what having an ectopic pregnancy tend to oppose MAP. However, as per now EP caused by MAP would be just like any other accident and so far medical researchers haven’t linked MAP directly to EP unless research proves it. We should not jump into conclusion.
Again no research has shown any increase in abnormities among babies whose mothers took MAP. Some people argue against MAP on the basing that past experience does show that other hormones taken in early pregnancy have harmed children. But instead of using assumptions, focused studies should be done to establish the connection between MAP and babies’ abnormalities and EP. Otherwise, we will not have a firm ground to stand and argue that simply because other hormones have caused abnormalities, MAP too causes it. It may be an exception
The intra-uterine device (IUDS)/the coil is an alternative for MAP. Unfortunately only few medical specialists are trained in fitting them efficiently. Again the intra-uterine device may make one anemic because of the volume and length of menstrual flow. Insertion is difficult and painful for women and has more restrictions, which include heart value problems, previous EP and pelvic infection. (Bucar, 1999). This makes MAP to remain the most appropriate and least expensive. So opposing its use and making it difficult to access only makes it strenuous for women.
I believe every one should be in control of their life. A medicine such as MAP gives women more means to control and plan for their lives. Arguing against MAP is like arguing that family planning should be done away with to allow chance and nature to rein it an arena that it otherwise shouldn’t.
In conclusion, the current price range of $25-$40 should be lowered and possibly subsidized by the federal governments. Arrangements should be made and possibilities explored on providing emergency contraception for free like its done in some parts of the UK. Youth advisory clinics, family planning clinics, college health centers, STD clinics and walk-in clinics must seek to stock and make readily available MAP at a lowest cost possible.
1. American Medical Association, Council on Medical Service. Access to Emergency Contraception
[H-75.985] Chicago, IL: AMA, 2006;
2. Bucar, L. Caution: Catholic Health Restrictions May Be Hazardous to Your Health
. Washington, DC: Catholics for a Free Choice, 1999.
3. Devin, D. Contraceptive coils (IUDS) http://www.netdoctor.co.k/whoisd.html
Accessed online on 24 November 2007 1:50:42 GMT.
4. Ellertson, C., Trussell, J., Stewart F.H, Winikoff, B. Should emergency contraceptive
pills be available without a prescription? Journal of the America Medical Women’s Association. 1998; 53 (5, Supplement 2): 226-229.
5. Gardiner Harris, 24thAug 2006.In New York Times.
http://www.nytims.com/2006/08/24/heath/24end-pill.html. Accessed online on
23rd, Nov. 2007
6. Stewart F, Van Look P.F.A. Emergency contraception: Contraceptive Technology
.17th revised edition. New York: Irvington, 1998.