Despite Texas abortion law, people will have access to emergency contraception
Days after Texas implemented its 6-week abortion ban, fears arose about how the law might affect access to emergency contraception. This is not the case. But how the ban could affect other elements of reproductive health concerns experts who say they already need to tackle misinformation to make sure people know their options.
The recent law, SB 8, prohibits almost all abortions after detection of fetal heart activity, usually around week 6 of pregnancy. It does not apply to emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, also known as the “morning after pill”, which has been approved for over-the-counter sale by the FDA in 2013. But as so often happens, confusion over what the law does and does not do has crept into social media.
“So, can women in Texas still take the Plan B pill (the morning after pill) if they have had unprotected sex or sex with contraception that is not 100% effective?” #TexasWarOnWomen #TexasAbortionLaw, ” @meggaI asked on Twitter.
In another reaction, @ libdrama1 asked how access to over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills might be threatened in Texas and what SB 8 might mean for medical providers.
“SB 8 is designed to create fear and confusion about accessing reproductive health services, so it’s no surprise that people are confused about whether this affects access to emergency contraception. or basic contraceptive methods, ”said Elisa Wells, co-founder and director of Diet C, a website that provides information on medical abortion and how it differs from other reproductive health methods.
She added that it’s understandable that the turn of events in Texas made people wonder how SB 8 applies to the morning after pill, despite the fact that emergency contraception isn’t going anywhere and remains available. in the state.
The ensuing confusion is a “deliberate” campaign by supporters of laws like SB 8 to elicit reluctance about all forms of reproductive health care, Wells added.
Tracey Wilkinson, board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, told BuzzFeed News Americans have always been confused about the difference between medical abortion and emergency contraceptive pills. And many don’t even know that government-approved medical abortion is an option – only 20% of American adults and one-third of women between the ages of 18 and 49 have ever heard of the mifepristone abortion pill, according to the. Kaiser Family Foundation.
One reason for the confusion is that emergency contraception and abortion pills arrived in the United States around the same time in the 1990s, Wilkinson said. Their entry into the reproductive arena caused “disorderly” confusion and confusion, despite the fact that the drugs “work in completely different ways,” she said.
Medical abortion is an FDA-approved two-step pill protocol that works during the first 11 weeks of pregnancy by blocking a hormone necessary for the continued pregnancy. FDA-approved emergency contraception involves the use of a hormone that prevents pregnancy from occurring in the days immediately following intercourse.
Plan B and other morning-after pills act as an extra layer of safety for people who are worried about becoming pregnant by preventing the release of the egg. The $ 40- $ 50 pill contains a hormone that can reduce the chances of getting pregnant by 75 to 89% in three days after intercourse, but can be taken for up to five days after.
“A lot of people use the term ‘morning after pill’ to refer to emergency contraception, a term that is also sometimes used in reference to the abortion pill,” said Foundation Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Plan B, in a statement. communicated. “This reference, and other misinformation about Plan B – including misleading names that incorrectly indicate how Plan B works – can cause significant confusion and exacerbate the problem.”
But interpreting contraception as an abortion is a long-standing issue for the reproductive rights community, Guttmacher Institute spokesperson Lauren Cross told BuzzFeed News. Some anti-abortion groups argue that certain methods of contraception constitute abortion and claim that emergency contraception ends the pregnancy rather than preventing it.
Wilkinson said it is obvious that the current situation is part of a “larger conversation” that is more about reproductive autonomy than the mere issue of abortion itself. Instead, the debate on abortion rights has broadened to include other elements of reproductive health, such as contraception, she said, adding: “It breaks my heart.” .
Plan B was approved in 1999 as the first single hormone emergency contraception in the country, but it took over a decade political battles before the pill was available over the counter in pharmacies.
Today, the emergency contraceptive pill is still available without ID or a prescription at pharmacies in Texas and all other U.S. states, according to the Consumer Healthcare Foundation.
But abortion clinics in Texas are now under SB 8’s power, and these are often the same places that provide morning-after pills. If these resources are lost due to the law, more people will find it difficult to access birth control, STI treatment and other forms of care, Wilkinson said. She added that this will have a disproportionate impact on people of color and LGBTQ people who already face higher barriers to safe and affordable treatment.
The medical community is also not immune to misinformation, she said.
“You are pushing people to providers who may not be as aware of or affected by this law and might have a higher likelihood of misinformation,” Wilkinson said.
This is one of the many ‘downstream’ effects SB 8 will have on reproductive rights – as affordable emergency contraception places close, people may be forced to pay a heavy price or even forgo. to take the drug, she added.
“The unfortunate side effect is the runoff on all contraception,” Wilkinson said. “It’s reopening a wound to realize that there is a movement that does not believe in reproductive autonomy. The silent impact that occurs against all reproductive health topics… will have huge impacts on the outcomes of life. “