After Michael and Christina share a night of passion, Michael notices that the condom has broken. Now what? One popular solution is emergency contraceptive pills, otherwise known as the Morning-After Pill.
Each year, young women get a scare as a result of unprotected sex, and have to worry about a possible unwanted pregnancy. But rather than stressing while waiting for their menstrual cycles to slowly approach, students are now turning to emergency contraceptive pills.
“I used (the Morning-After Pill) as a precaution,” said a graduate student from Panama City, “because I felt I was not ready to handle the responsibilities that came along with having a child.”
The morning-after pill is a high dosage of birth control hormones. One pill is equal to four birth control pills. The pill prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. The pill is taken orally in two doses, 12 hours apart. For the pill to be most effective, a woman must take the first dose within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Some of the side effects from taking the pills are upset stomachs, nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, fluid retention, dizziness and headaches. The side effects can last up to 24 hours. The pill is about 69 to 85 percent effective in preventing a pregnancy. Users should administer a home pregnancy test if their period does not resume within three weeks.
Debra, a student at Florida state University, who would prefer her last name not to be used to protect her privacy, found the pill to not be as effective as she thought it would be.
“After we (she and her partner) had our little slip-up, I took the pills as directed. They made me feel extremely nauseous. I figured I had taken care of the problem, until one month later when my doctor informed me that I was pregnant.”
Eulisha Ransom, a criminal justice student at Tallahassee Community College said people should not take the pill.
“If you are grown-up enough to lay down with someone, then you should be grown-up and responsible enough to take whatever may come with that,” she said.
Kalamay Jackson, 22, a first-year criminal justice student from Miami said that if the girl he has had unprotected sex with is his girlfriend, then he won’t request that she take the pill.
“If I know her well enough, then we can go ahead and have the kid. But if she happens to be someone I barely know or a one-night stand, I consider the pill to be one of our options.”
A major controversy surrounding the morning after pill is its correlation to abortion. Even though the morning-after pill has no effect on an egg that has already attached to the womb, unlike RU-486, a pill that can terminate an early pregnancy, some students do not feel that offering emergency contraception is appropriate.
“I do not understand how people do not consider this pill as abortion,” said Corenthia Milton, 20, a nursing student at TCC. “In both cases, you are killing an unwanted or unplanned child, no matter what stage it is in.”
With the election soon approaching, pro-choice has become a recurring topic. President George W. Bush stands for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortions even in cases of rape and incest. Sen. John Kerry, on the other hand, is for pro-choice, allowing women to have the right to make their own decisions concerning their bodies and reproduction .
At Florida A&M University, a student must go to the clinic and take a pregnancy test to make sure that she is not already pregnant from a previous sexual encounter. The pills will not work if the woman has already been impregnated. If she is not pregnant, she will be counseled by the physician, and then prescribed the pills. All of this must take place with 72 hours of unprotected sex.
“We encourage students to get birth control rather than constantly taking the morning-after pill,” said FAMU’s Registered Nurse Health Educator, Monique Potter. “What I’m seeing is after a major event such as Homecoming or Spring Break, more students are coming to the clinic and requesting the pills. We may see the same student come in three to four times a month.”
In May 2004, the Food and Drug Administration denied the selling of ECPs to anyone over the counter. Now Barr Pharmaceuticals has submitted a second proposal – to sell its Plan B brand of emergency contraceptive to people 16 and older over the counter.
“I think that it should be sold over the counter because you are on a time schedule. You only have so much time to take the first pill to prevent the pregnancy,” said sophomore Alescia King, 19, a biology pre-medicine student from Fort Pierce. “Rather than going through so many obstacles just to get the pill, it would be so much easier if you could just pick it up at the store.”
Many health professionals feel differently.
“What we’re afraid of is that the pills may get misused. People may not use protection, thinking that they could simply go to Walgreens or Eckerd’s and get the pill. But this pill does not protect against any sexually transmitted diseases,” said Potter.
Pharmacies such as Albertson’s and Wal-Mart, do not dispense the contraceptives. But the pills are available to students for pickup at Planned Parenthood, college health clinics, women’s health centers, private doctors, and emergency rooms. ECPs are not sold over-the-counter in the state of Florida and are available by prescription only. You may get the pills from FAMU pharmacy for $22 or at Planned Parenthood for $30.
For more information about ECPs contact Planned Parenthood at www.plannedparenthood.org
Contact Stephanie Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org