Emailed to the N&O 11/20/06 but not printed. An important point, though.
The N&O completely missed the real Emergency Contraception (EC) controversy in the "Morning after pill in stores" article from 11/17/06. The article said the drug 'stirred controversy in August when federal regulators decided to make it available to women without a prescription." The real controversy was the 3 year saga of the Food and Drug Administration ignoring its scientists in refusing to make EC available for over the counter purchase. The real controversy is about the credibility of the entire agency and its ability to make its decisions based on science.
Susan Wood, the assistant commissioner for women’s health and director of the office of women’s health at the Food and Drug Administration from 2000 to August 2005, resigned in protest of the FDA’s decision to delay granting over-the-counter status to Plan B emergency contraception. "Although the FDA’s scientists have approved over-the-counter status for Plan B, it has been delayed since 2003", Wood says.
The FDA also disregarded studies establishing that easy access to EC did not increase sexual activity in young women, and did not decrease the use of other forms of contraception.
The FDA's decision to allow EC to be sold without prescription (over-the-counter) to women age 18 and older is a step in the right direction for women's rights and reproductive health, but it is an incomplete victory. It is not available for some teens. And in keeping it away from teens, pharmacists have it behind the counter. These days, placement "behind the counter" means that even an adult woman may have to contend with a moralizing lecture from the cashier or pharmacy clerk, and deal with the same kinds of refusals that now face women trying to fill a prescription (called pharmacist refusal).
President of Raleigh NOW (National Organization for Women)