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02.14.13 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics released two new reports on contraception use among U.S. women age 15-44, based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth.
The first report examines the use of emergency contraception from 2006 to 2010, finding that 11 percent of women surveyed have used emergency contraception at least once, up from 4.2 percent in 2002.
“These findings reconfirm the fact that all types of women—regardless of age, marital status, race, or education—have used emergency contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex or when another method of birth control has failed,” said Luisa Cabal, vice president of programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“That’s exactly why we have been fighting a decade-long legal battle with the federal government to lift its arbitrary and medically unnecessary restrictions on emergency contraception and make it available over the counter without prescription for women of all ages.”
Currently, emergency contraceptives (EC) are available to women 17 and older without a prescription, with young women under 17 required to obtain a prescription from a physician. Even for women 17 and older, however, the medication is available only at health clinics or pharmacies, upon request and with adequate identification.
Plan B One-Step’s manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, originally filed a supplemental new drug application asking the FDA to allow unrestricted over-the-counter sale of the product in February 2011—an application the FDA ultimately denied in December 2011 after U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step to intervene in the drug application process.
Shortly after that decision and continued action by the FDA kept arbitrary restrictions in place on all other brands of levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception, the Center for Reproductive Rights reopened its decade-long legal challenge in February 2012—a matter that is currently before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The second CDC report takes a look at the trends in the use of birth control from 1982-2010, reporting that 99 percent of sexually experienced women of reproductive age between 2006 and 2010 have used at least one contraceptive method at some point in their lifetime and that there have been recent increases in the use of more effective, longer-term contraceptive methods, such as Depo-Provera and IUDs.
“Safe and effective contraception is an issue and expense that confronts millions of women in the United States—underlining the clear benefits of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all health insurance plans provide the full range of contraceptives to women without a copay,” Cabal said. “We must continue to push back against some employers’ efforts to discriminate against their female employees and refuse this critical benefit based on religious objections.
“Broadening access to affordable birth control options—including emergency contraception—reinforces every woman’s fundamental right to make her own decisions about her family, her health, and her future.”