Plan B — the morning-after pill — soon available over the counter

By Caitlin Kelly

English: A woman swats away the stork which ha...
English: A woman swats away the stork which has brought her her child. Caption: “And the villain still pursues her”. (a turn-of-the-20th-century postcard). Русский: Женщина отбивается от аиста, который принес ей ее ребенка. Надпись: «Злодей по-прежнему преследует ее». (открытка на рубеже ХХ века). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was debating whether or not to blog this major news, but decided to do so anyway:

The Obama administration has decided to stop trying to block
over-the-counter availability of the best-known morning-after
contraceptive pill for all women and girls, a move fraught with
political repercussions for President Obama.

The government’s decision means that any woman or girl will soon be able
to walk into a drugstore and buy the pill, Plan B One-Step, without a

The essential issue, which never changes for women, is control of our bodies and their reproductive ability.

Our lives, in short.

The most fortunate of women have a few choices, many of them culturally pre-determined:

Never have sex unless or until you want to become pregnant

Never have sex unless or until you are married and have a partner to help you raise a child

Never have sex

Have an abortion

Put your unwanted child(ren) up for adoption

Many of us have, or will have, a sexual life beyond the boundaries of marriage or the explicit, specific desire to become someone’s parent. For some of us, it may result in an unplanned pregnancy — or pregnancy scare.

Ready access to Plan B means any woman who fears she might face an unplanned pregnancy has the option to forestall that terrifyingly, permanently life-changing event.

It is not an abortion. Plan B’s exact method is unclear — except that it does what it promises. It makes sure you will not become pregnant.

Those of us who delay marriage — or may never even choose it — and wish to have a sexual life without the result of children must have access to safe, affordable, accessible choices beyond the Religious Right’s favorite method — snapping our knees safely shut from puberty to menopause.

Managing one’s sexual impulses and desires, let alone those of our male partners/husbands, is sometimes challenge enough. STDs are rampant and add another layer of worry or concern, as they should.

Then there is the matter of one’s fertility, for some a coveted gift, for others a burden. Shit happens. Condoms slide off, or break or, yes, sometimes never get used at all.

And I am speaking only of consensual sex, not the many women suffering rape and its aftermath, emotional and physical.

Plan B is a much simpler choice — on ever level — than abortion for many women.

This is huge step for American women’s reproductive rights, and one that’s only — really — about 40 years later than what Canadian women took for granted when I was in college and needed access to Plan B. There, it was an easy, quick, non-political issue.

I moved to the U.S. when I was 30, still unmarried. I have been nauseated, enraged and wearied ever since by the relentless, ferocious, get-the-the-fuck-away-from-my-uterus political battles in this country over when, where, or even if a woman should have ready, safe, affordable access to birth control information, birth control and/or abortion.

It’s my body.

I do with it — tats, piercings, hair color, shape and size, clothing (or lack of it) — as I wish.

Those who  remain utterly determined to control and manage women’s sexuality, by trying to demonize and/or politicize our most personal and private decisions, are anathema to me.

53 thoughts on “Plan B — the morning-after pill — soon available over the counter

  1. Great to-the-point post. It’s horrific to know that every day in the US we are still battling for equal rights as women. Has anyone stopped to acknowledge how nonsensical it is that government is making choices for women’s bodies? Can’t imagine the public outcry that would occur if the government began telling men when they could or could not have sex and/or procreate (not that this is the exact same as this issue, but it’s the best comparison available). I say three cheers for finally taking a step toward 21st century living for women in the US.

    1. Thanks!

      It is truly shocking to me the insane amount of time, energy and political power spent/wasted on this issue when we have people living in their cars, losing their homes, kids who have no food and millions who cannot get a job.

      Priorities, people!

  2. My favorite quote….”get-the-the-fuck-away-from-my-uterus.” My new mantra!!

    I also believe it’s about time. It’s sad that one was forced to either have an abortion (which is severely frowned upon) or give birth and have to face the confusion of adoption. Choosing a pill over all the other emotional drama is a better option in my opinion. Plan B has come to my rescue in the past and I couldn’t help but feel judged when I had to ask the pharmacist for it. I want to be able to walk in and grab it and a box of condoms without holding my head in shame and saying…”he didn’t pull out.” LOL Awesome piece. =)

    1. Thanks! It was time for a good ole feminist rant again. Feels good!

      People who are not women (i.e. most law-makers) have NO idea what it means to enjoy, let alone manage, our sexuality and, God forbid, a pregnancy or pregnancy scare. I was 19 when I needed it — a FT student at Canada’s toughest university, my journalism career already taking off, family literally thousands of miles away and unreachable (and even then…?) and it was not my freaking fiance, that’s for sure.

      Why should we EVER feel ashamed of our sexuality? If we are safe, responsible, thoughtful (some aren’t), whose business is it? Not the damn govermnent!

      1. One of my favorite stories/books ever!

        I did consider adding one of the meanest Malled reviews…which would have run the length of my arm: Bitter, pretentious and lazy, lazy, lazy.

        That, or a small beaver or maple leaf somewhere, in honor of Canada. But hey, needles…by choice?!

  3. Isn’t it ironic that we have pills for everything – mental health, body health, physical illness and one that makes sure men are always “ready” – so the Plan B pill becomes an issue because it is a political issue and there is no doubt about that. What the hell is the matter with us?

      1. It is a mystery, Caitlin. I think there are a lot of religious or observant women out there who feel guilty and repressed about sexuality and birth control and their place in the hierarchy. I would think young men and women would welcome another alternative but if they are in the clutches of religious conservatives there is no other choice but abstinence and obeyance.

  4. I am constantly, consistently exhausted having to deal with/mitigate/outright battle the satellite issues that come from nothing more or less than being born female. Particularly being raised by a feminist mother and egalitarian parents in a patriarchal faith, growing up in the heavily male dominated culture of the military/government, and then moving to and later working in a far right state for university when I’m very much left – talk about whiplash! The last election cycle alone left me angry enough to punch a puppy. Occasionally there are events or leaps that make me cheer, but quite often I’m depressed by the thought that I am still working for what my academic mother, wartime grandmother, and flapper great grandmother were working for – and not a lot of progress has been made in some areas.

    1. Well said — and how goddamned depressing it is indeed!

      I was truly shocked when I left egalitarian, feminist 1970s’ era Canada — where I (sigh) took freedoms for granted by then — and came to sexist/chauvinist/insane-o NY, let alone the U.S.

      I will be very curious indeed to read your blog, and your reactions, to life in England.

  5. I am glad you blogged about this. I find myself frightened, as an American woman I feel as if we’ve been under assault, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.

  6. Scott

    Among my Obama disappointments was this administration’s continual blocking of Plan B availability, and I’m glad to see this anti-choice effort fail. If the NSA is going to listen to American women exclaim, “Oh, my god, the condom broke!” over their cell phones, why couldn’t this administration at least allow for greater reproductive options?

    Mrs. Fringe is right: this assault on American women’s rights is not going to end soon, and will get worse depending upon the President who succeeds Obama.

    Plan B — stock up now.

  7. I may be totally wrong, but what I seemed to pick up is that the Religious South breeds the politicians that have continually voted against a woman’s freedom to control her body. I find it difficult to understand how this can be a sin even with the pro-life people.With the population explosion these days do we really need so many more babies in the world.? From the male perspective I’m all for this new freedom as it ensures no paternity suits and shotgun weddings. It can also remove the discomfort of having to use condoms for either partner with a latex allergy. It surprises me that the UK is more forward thinking than the US in this respect and I feel very sorry for Prez. Obama when the backlash starts from the religious fruit cakes over there.

  8. This is a step in the right direction, if you ask me. Now all we have to do is worry about conservatives challenging this in Congress or in the Supreme Court or in the states over some BS religious persecution reason.
    That, or pharmacists trying to act like counselors by trying to convince women and girls to keep the baby because of all the “options” out there (it’s an illegal practice, but happens everyday across the country, apparently).

    1. True. There have been reports of pharmacists refusing to sell it. My town has 3 drugstores and I can easily drive to many others. But many women do NOT have these choices.

      The word is CHOICE, in every sense of the word, for women to control our bodies.

  9. here’s what i’ve been told and/or remembering from when i was dating someone many years ago who went to her doctor to begin taking birth control pills:

    your body won’t allow you to get pregnant when you already are pregnant. birth control pills work by releasing hormones all month that convince your body it is pregnant. i believe it prevents a fertilized egg from attaching inside the uterus, thus allowing it to be flushed out.

    from what i’ve read recently plan B is like a megadose of birth control pills, like one month’s worth all in one pill. sometimes two pills. and it does the same thing, detaching the fertilized egg from the uterus and flushing it out of your body.

    as for rights and choices, i think you are mistaken. look at the two greatest and most powerful rights you have. you have the right to do what your government will allow you to do, and you have the right to pack up and move to another country. what more could you ask for??

  10. As a conservative woman myself, I have seen the freaking out about Plan B firsthand. Shockingly (sarcasm implied), I did my own research on Plan B and found out that it is intended to be preventative, rather than an abortion pill. I really don’t see any issue with Plan B, any more than I do taking birth control like I do currently. I think that in cases of rape or incest, it could be life-changing for the poor girls who have suffered.

    Do I agree on all your points regarding sex and abortion? Probably not. 🙂 But, hey, you have given me much to think on, and I appreciate that.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      It’s great to hear from different points of view, as long as we’re all civil about it. I don’t often weigh in on stuff this political because I have no interest in flame wars. But all sexually active women risk getting pregnant when they least want or expect it.

      1. Civility – exactly. I know that other people believe differently than me, but that doesn’t scare me. I love reading other points of view because it makes me think through what I believe instead of believing blindly.

      2. It’s funny. I was making fun of David Brook’s column in today’s NYT (ugh, ugh and ugh) and one friend — older than I and ex NYT staffer sneered “who reads him?” If you don’t ever read people you disagree with, how will we know what they think?

  11. this is very well said, direct and honest. with their many personal and political and religious agendas, people try to pass their judgement on what others should do. in the end it is each person’s right to do as they choose with their body. this will open new options to many. thank you for writing this.

  12. In Germany you need a doc. to allow you this pill.
    Other european Country are more free.

    Your blog came just right- afer a nasty discussion about abortion.

    “get-the-the-fuck-away-from-my-uterus political battles” -still alive in Germany, too.


  13. The strange thing is studies have been shown that the use of preventative measures reduces both the abortion rates and unplanned pregnancy numbers. When will our country just accept that humans like sex and there are ways to keep unwanted pregnancies from happening that don’t necessarily require an abortion?

  14. Audrey Schlofner

    Very well said! As an American, I am so embarrassed that many in our country still refuse to treat women as human beings with futures and ideas to pursue- futures that may not involve marriage or motherhood. Maybe I am being optimistic, but I think we are a growing majority and that many are starting to see the religious right for what it is: outdated and discriminatory. I am thrilled about the Plan B news; thank you for posting this.

    1. Thanks for weighing in — it’s great to hear some new voices here!

      I wish I were optimistic but things have been so ugly and so embattled with legislation and restricting access to abortion…I foresee more battles ahead.

  15. This was SO GOOD!! You hit on all of the main points with a gusto that made my feminist heart sing. It is disturbing to think that we are still contemplating this. That we are still allowing others to decide what WE should do with OUR bodies. It’s shocking to think that we can be so far ahead in some stuff and so archaically backwards with this. Do we really still have to fight for choice? That’s plain old outrageous!

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