Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

Obstetricians Say Morning-After Pills Can Prevent Half a Million Abortions

WebMD Health News

April 30, 2001 (Chicago) -- Marshalling the influence of the 40,000-strong American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the group's incoming president put out a call to fellow doctors Monday to offer a prescription for the morning-after pill to all women of childbearing age as part of routine office visits.

Thomas F. Purdon, MD, says the increased use of emergency contraception could cut in half the number of unintended pregnancies and prevent "a half million abortions each year."

He says about three million unintended pregnancies occur each year in the U.S. and many end in abortions. Purdon estimates that increased use of emergency contraception, or the so-called morning-after pill -- essentially a high-dose birth control pill -- will "stop hundreds of thousands of abortions."

He issued his call for advance prescriptions for the morning-after pill to doctors attending the annual meeting here of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The women's health specialists group is celebrating its 50th birthday during the meeting.

Purdon says that over those 50 years, obstetricians and gynecologists have achieved major advances in many areas of women's health but says, "one area where we have not improved [much] is in prevention of unwanted pregnancies."

He says that talking about emergency contraception as part of a routine doctor visit is the best approach to cut down on unwanted pregnancies. Purdon tells WebMD, "this was really brought home to me in my own office the other day. I had a 39-year-old woman who is unmarried and is raising an 11-year-old child. She said she was very interested in emergency contraception even though she is not sexually active."

Anita L. Nelson, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA School of Medicine, says that for "too long doctors and their patients operated under a don't-ask-don't-tell approach." The result, she says, is that even though obstetricians and gynecologists have known about emergency contraception since the mid-1970s, only 20% of them are including emergency contraception in contraceptive counseling.

Worse, says Purdon, is that only a third of reproductive-age women have heard about emergency contraception and "only 5% heard about it from their doctors."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
pregnancy test and calendar
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result