Study Finds Some Teens are Denied Access to Emergency Contraception

Morning After Pill

When over-the-counter emergency contraceptives like Plan B were first introduced in 2006, the FDA cleared them for use in people age 18 and over. In 2013, the FDA eliminated that age requirement, extending emergency contraceptive access to people of all ages. But despite the fact that emergency contraceptives have been available to people under the age of 18 for roughly 5 years, a new study has found that some teens may still encounter barriers that improperly block their access.

During the study, mystery callers posing as physicians and teens called nearly 1,000 pharmacies in five states to inquire about purchasing emergency contraception on the same day. After analyzing the results of these phone calls, researchers found that approximately one in ten teens were denied access to the medication based on the false assertion that they were too young to get it without a prescription. It’s also interesting to note that only 52 percent of teen girls were correctly told they could get the medication without a prescription, compared to 62 percent of teen boys.

Based on their findings, the researchers are concerned that these roadblocks could contribute to unplanned pregnancies among teens.

“Emergency contraception works better the sooner you take it,” said leady study author Dr. Tracey Wilkinson of the Indiana University School of Medicine in a statement. “Barriers to access can lead to delays in getting emergency contraception or prevent someone from getting it at all.”

The researchers also acknowledged that the labels on boxes of emergency contraceptives could further complicate the issue. Some older packaging labels advised that the morning-after pill was only for women age 17 and over, while more recent labels have eliminated these age and gender requirements.

Do you have some lingering questions about the birth control options that are available to you? At South Avenue Women’s Services, we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have, and provide insight into which birth control method is right for you. Give us a call or contact us online to speak with a health counselor today.