NE Ohio Responds to Morning-After Pill Changes

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A federal judge issued a controversial ruling Friday, fueling the debate on birth control.

It will soon be available to youth without doctor or parental approval.

New York federal district court judge Edward R. Korman overturned a 2011 decision on the use of the morning-after pill.

Until Friday, women over the age of 18 could get the pill from a pharmacy, but girls could only access the pill with a prescription.

Korman ruled that the government’s refusal to lift restrictions on accessing the pill was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”

The judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration to lift restrictions on the pill – Plan B One-Step and generic alternatives – within 30 days.

“It’s like you saying it’s OK that they’re having sex that young and things like that, which is not OK,” said Latiqueka Crawley of Cleveland. “But, it could be a good thing being able to get it yourself because some parents might not allow you.”

But that’s what concerns Dr. James Matheson of Vermilion. The obstetrician and gynecologist says Plan B has fueled unprotected sex, among other risks.

“The dose is 10 times what you would get in a standard hormone in a birth control pill,” he said. “And one of the things that we are seeing now, recent studies have shown that there is a dramatic increase in sexually transmitted diseases since this has become readily available to those over the age of 17 over the counter.”

Matheson said it’s important that young people have an adult to help guide decisions on their health.

“They can counsel them, talk to them, advise them,” he said. “I think that’s important because we’re seeing so much STDs, unintended pregnancies, abortions. We have a big problem here,” he told Fox 8 News.

Regan Clawson, of Bedford Height’s Planned Parenthood, says those conversations are important, but young women should have access to emergency contraception.

“Research has actually shown that teens are just as likely as adults to follow the product information correctly and actually take emergency contraception the way that it’s intended,” she said.

Clawson also notes that a common misconception of Plan B is what it does. She said many people believe the morning-after pill is an abortion pill – it is not.

“It prevents pregnancy by basically postponing ovulation, so it prevents the sperm from ever coming into contact with or fertilizing an egg,” Clawson said. “It is a form of birth control. It cannot be used to induce an abortion, and it cannot end a pregnancy is that already started.”

Clawson said the new ruling will help women use the contraceptive more effectively, as it must be used within five days of intercourse. The sooner a woman uses the pill, the more effective it will be at preventing pregnancy, she said.

“Lifting the age restrictions is a significant step forward for women’s health,” Clawson said. “It’s really going to make emergency contraception available to women at any age. This helps take the pill away from the pharmacy counter and in a place where women can access it, making it less confusing.”

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