Most Women Do Not Know Emergency Contraception Is Available in California Without Prescription, Report Finds
About 91% of California women ages 15 to 44 do not know that emergency contraception is available in the state without a prescription, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The report was based on telephone interviews with 1,151 California women ages 15 to 44 and had an overall margin of error of 3.2%. A form of EC called Plan B can reduce the chances of pregnancy by as much as 89% if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, according to the AP/Times. The survey found that 49% of women confused Plan B with mifepristone, a prescription drug that induces abortion. "There's a lot of confusion over terminology, and what's surprising is the extent [Plan B] is confused with [mifepristone]," report author Alina Salganicoff said, adding, "They are very different." In addition, about 74% of women said that they supported the use of Plan B when other birth control methods failed, while 18% said that they had moral or religious objections to the use of Plan B, the report found. California is one of five states that permits pharmacists to dispense Plan B without a prescription (Elias, AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/19). A joint meeting of two FDA advisory panels in December voted to recommend that Plan B be sold without a prescription nationwide (California Healthline, 12/17/03). FDA earlier this month delayed for 90 days a decision on the matter, saying that additional information on use of Plan B by women ages 16 and 17 is needed (AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/19). The survey is available online.