Area group to rally for morning after pill


Published: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 12:44 a.m.
A dozen Gainesville women headed north Thursday afternoon to join a planned protest today on the steps of the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Md.
The representatives from Gainesville Women's Liberation and the Florida NOW (National Organization for Women) young feminist task force are seeking over-the-counter access to the so-called "morning-after pill" for any woman who wants it.
Stephanie Seguin said the group will join with other women from New York and the Washington area to protest delays in the FDA approval process.
To date, women in all but a handful of states must have a prescription for the pill, which goes by the brand name Plan B. It prevents pregnancy when taken up to five days after sex, but is most effective when taken within 24 hours.
It is available without a prescription in 38 countries and six states. FDA representatives have questioned whether the drug is safe for use by girls under the age of 16.
"As for the age restriction, an unwanted pregnancy is much more disruptive and dangerous when you're young," Seguin said. A Gainesville resident, Seguin chairs the Florida NOW young feminist task force.
A report in this week's issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that in a trial of 2,100 women aged 15 to 24, having easier access to the morning-after pill increased the chances that it would be used.
Women who were given the emergency contraception before intercourse were twice as likely to use it, compared with women who had to get it at a pharmacy, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has taken the position that "emergency contraception should be available over the counter," said Dr. Larry Fields, president-elect of the group.
The FDA is slated to make a decision on the issue by Jan. 22.
Diane Chun can be reached at 374-5041 or chund@ gvillesun.com.

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