Emergency Contraception Without a Prescription
WebMD News Archive
"These pills won't cause an abortion or a miscarriage,"
says Jeffrey Waldman, MD. "If in fact you are pregnant when you take these
pills, they will have no effect. The downside is the few minor side effects
that you might have, like [nausea]. But basically, if you mistook the
medication, the consequences are virtually nil."
Waldman, a California-based ob-gyn who is president of the
medical director's council for Planned Parenthood, says having the product
available on store shelves will provide women with more options than they
"It's not meant to replace contraception on a regular
basis, but in an effort to prevent unwanted pregnancies, it's just another
[option]," he tells WebMD.
Emergency contraception is already sold without a prescription
in several European countries, and some contraceptive experts say it's about
time the U.S. made it available to women here. This would ensure that a woman
could buy it for an emergency and keep it at home in case birth control fails
or is forgotten.
David Grimes, MD, says emergency contraception is "grossly
underused" in the U.S., but he thinks putting it in drug stores and other
places where women can buy it easily should help increase its use and prevent
"Any child can walk into a drug store or grocery store in
America and buy a lethal quantity of aspirin, no questions asked," says
Grimes, vice president of biomedical affairs for Family Health International.
"[Emergency contraception] should be available to women right now without a
The makers of another emergency contraceptive, known as Preven,
say as many as two out of three women in the U.S. have never even heard of