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 American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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