AAFP Statement: AAFP Opposes U.S. Department of Justice’s Appeal of Emergency Contraception Ruling

Monday, May 06, 2013

Statement Attributable to:
Glen Stream, MD, MBI
Board Chair
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The U.S. Department of Justice’s May 1 decision to appeal a recent U.S. District Court’s ruling to lift the age restriction on over-the-counter access to Plan B One-Step emergency contraception presents an unnecessary barrier between females at risk of an unintended pregnancy and a safe and effective means to prevent it. Emergency contraception should be made readily available, without restriction, to all females of child bearing age, especially when timely access is critical for optimal effectiveness.

“On Dec. 7, 2012, the American Academy of Family Physicians signed a joint letter to the Department of Health and Human Services calling for the removal of age restrictions for Plan B One-Step. Science and research have proven the drug to be a safe and effective means to prevent unintended pregnancies in females of all ages. Furthermore, all females should have access to emergency contraception as a back-up birth control option in cases of unprotected sex, sexual assault, or contraceptive failure.

“As medical professionals committed to lowering the rate of unintended pregnancy, we view the FDA’s action to approve over-the-counter access to Plan B without a prescription for females aged 15 and older as a step forward. However, it is important to realize that a 15-year-old may lack the necessary proof-of-age identification required by law. In the interest of patients’ safety and reproductive rights, the AAFP upholds its stance that emergency contraception should be readily available to any female, regardless of age, who may experience an unintended pregnancy.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stream, contact Janelle Davis at 800) 274-2237, Ext. 5222, or jdavis@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

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