The real story about Plan B

This week the Obama administration took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA’s recommendation–based on scientific study–to expand access to emergency birth control to women of all ages. Like all issues affecting women’s health, it’s clear people on all sides have strong feelings about this. For its part, the mainstream media has been focused on how smart politically it is (or isn’t) to extend access to emergency contraception, known as Plan B, to women under 17.

But no one is talking about the most important part of this whole decision: It is going to impact real women’s lives in deeply serious ways.

When we focus exclusively on how taking Plan B will impact a 15 year old (or not!), we miss the truth about the net impact of the decision. That story needs to be told and it needs to be told by people whose lives have been changed because they didn’t have access to emergency contraception when they needed it. By women who can’t easily get birth control, let alone an abortion. By women who don’t have government issued IDs. By women who can’t be open and honest with anyone in their community, including their pharmacist, about the fact that they need Plan B.

The story of how restricting access to Plan B and requiring photo identification and permission from a pharmacist actively disqualifies millions of women from making their own choices for their own bodies needs to be told by you. Will you submit your stories in the comments section here?

Once we’ve collected enough stories, we’ll share them with members of Congress, members of the Obama administration and members of the press.

Shaunna Thomas and Nita Chaudhary

Join the Conversation

  • Melissa

    I’m not sure if this counts as what you’re looking for, but I have a story that I think of every time access to Plan B comes up. I was 19, and I was in the hospital after having been raped. I was far from home and terrified, although luckily my best friend was with me to hold my hand when I cried. There was a nurse who was assisting, and she made a point to tell the rape kit specialist (right in front of me) that “she couldn’t give me the Plan B pills” and that “somebody else had to do it”. It was clear to me from her demeanor (and the reaction of the specialist) that she was one of those people who objects to the use of Plan B and refuses to administer it to patients. I cannot tell you how dehumanizing, how utterly depressing it was to be in such a horrible situation already and to have a nurse, of all people, deny you the medication you need. In my case, another nurse was summoned to administer the pills. I know many other women have not been so lucky. No woman or girl of child-bearing age should be denied Plan B because of political shenanigans or the personal beliefs of others. To do so denies them the right to control their own bodies.

    • Shaunna Thomas

      Thanks for sharing your story Melissa, we’re deeply sorry this happened to you and grateful you were willing to tell us about it. Your story is powerful and, yes, its the kind of story we want to share with people who make decisions about emergency contraception. Thanks again.

  • Cristina Archila

    While this may not be my story, this is someone’s story, and I can only offer a small piece of the picture.

    I was in a CVS one morning buying some quick breakfast items. As I stood there, this girl desperately runs in and quietly asks the clerk, “Do you guys have Plan B? I really need it, I’ve been everywhere and no one seems to have it.” The lady at the counter looked really confused. She asked her to repeat herself, which she did. She had no idea what she was talking about and kept asking her what Plan B was. The girl was becoming increasingly embarrassed, as a line began to form behind me at the checkout stand. I finally snapped at the lady and said “It’s emergency contraception. She’s asking if you have any.” The girl seemed really embarrassed that a stranger was now involved. Not handling this sensitively, the clerk yells across the the store to woman on the sales floor asking if they had any. The lady got really snappy and said “No, we don’t sell that here.” The girl ran out crying before I could even direct her to a Planned Parenthood. I don’t know what her circumstances were. I don’t know if she was raped or had consensual sex. Either way, I feel as if this was a horrific experience for her. When I got home, I looked on CVS’s website to see if they offered it and they claimed to do so (and still do) I can’t speak for this particular store. Maybe they truly didn’t have any, maybe they did, but at the very least, they should have directed this girl where to go. I think about this girl from time to time and hope that someone was able to offer her help or direct her to a pharmacy that could help. I wonder, how many places did she end up going to that morning? How many places refused to sell her it? How many judgmental stares did she have to endure that morning? And if she didn’t receive any, at what cost? I honestly wish I knew what happened to her after that brief time of knowing her.