Emergency Contraception (EC) is a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. EC — also known as “Plan B” or “the morning after pill” — contains a higher dosage of the same hormones found in regular birth control. Emergency contraception is NOT the same medication as RU-486 (“the abortion pill”).
EC can be 95% effective in preventing pregnancy, including from rape, if taken within 24 hours. A delay of even 12 hours can increase the odds of pregnancy by almost 50%. EC is approved by the FDA for over-the-counter sales and is available at most pharmacies to women over the age of 17 with a valid photo ID when a pharmacist is on duty.
Currently Pennsylvania has no law on the books outlining standard emergency medical treatment for victims of sexual assault. In 2007, an attempt to require EC in hospital emergency rooms was thwarted by the PA Catholic Conference. As a result, care varies widely between hospitals; some providing comprehensive care which includes access to emergency contraception, and others refusing to provide access to the medication even if it’s requested.
For more information on Emergency Contraception, please visit the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.