Emergency Contraception Rally

I think the FDA’s non-decision on Emergency Contraception (EC, the morning-after pill) is bullshit.  All of their scientific advisory panels have recommended approving it.  They’re full of it for saying that an age-based decision is unenforceable; as Fred at Stone Court points out, if that were the case, tobacco shouldn’t be available.  This is a purely political decision.

So why wasn’t I more enthusiastic when got the following email from NOW and the FMF?

Dear DC Activist,

We wanted to make you aware of an important National Day of Action and rally for Emergency Contraception (EC). We hope to see you there!

WHO: National Organization for Women, along with other women’s rights organizations and activists

WHAT: National Day of Action on Emergency Contraception

WHERE: Outside U.S. Department of Health and Human Service 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. ยท Washington , D.C. 20201

WHEN: Tuesday, August 30 @ 12:00 pm. Come during your lunch break!

WHY : To demand that emergency contraception (EC) be made available to all women, over the counter and without a prescription NOW! After more than two years of foot-dragging, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed women once again! In a report issued today, the FDA demanded more time before announcing a decision to broadening access to "the morning after pill". NOW activists and others who support the health and safety of girls and women will hold a rally outside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service office to insist that the FDA allow the sale of Emergency Contraception without a prescription. Please come during your lunch break and bring signs!

Well, for one thing, I work at 200 Independence Avenue.  There’s something incongruous of walking out at my lunch hour to protest in front of my own building, then returning to my desk to put in an afternoon’s work.  But more generally, this seems like an incredibly ineffectual action.  The FDA isn’t even based downtown — all its staff are out in Rockville.    And I’m sure the scientists who work at FDA are even more pissed off about this than I am.  Waving signs in front of the HHS office building may make you feel like you’re doing something but is highly unlikely to change anything.

[Updated] So, if you’re angry about the EC decision, the first thing to do is to send in your opinion using the official comment form.

Then, if you’re up to it, write letters to:

  1. Lester Crawford, FDA Commissioner
  2. Mike Leavitt, HHS Secretary
  3. Your Representative and Senator. 

Make a stink about politics affecting decisions that should be made based on science.

While you’re at it, if you’re female, the next time you’re at your OB/GYN, ask for a prescription for EC.  It’s a useful thing to have around the house, and the request also helps draw medical attention to the issue.

And if you need EC now, try your local Planned Parenthood, or getthepill.com or call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE.  (Thanks to Mary for the last.)  You may also be able to use a high dose of regular birth control pills for EC, if you happen to have access to a pack.

Further update:  Susan Wood, Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health at the FDA, has resigned in protest.  Read her resignation letter here.

3 Responses to “Emergency Contraception Rally”

  1. MaryGarth Says:

    It you need EC, or want more information on it, you can also call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE, which is James Trussell’s (of the Office of Population Research at Princeton–he’s been a major figure in promoting EC) EC Hotline.

  2. LPF Says:

    That’s a great image–you walking outside, pulling out your pop-up protest sign (a la the movie PCU), chanting and walking in a circle, then calming folding up the sign, walking back inside, and changing your protest sneakers for work pumps. I miss the inanity of living in DC!

  3. bj Says:

    I remember being very frustrated at the AIDS/ACT UP protests at the AIDS conference for your second reason: “scientists who work at FDA are even more pissed off about this than I am.” AIDS isn’t my subject area (though I am a scientist), but I remember thinking how frustrated I’d feel if I’d spent my days and nights in a lab, only to walk out my door to hear people complaining that I wasn’t doing enough.
    But, of course, the point of this kind of protest is to have a visible venue and to attract attention.
    Good suggestions about asking for emergency contraceptive at your doctor’s though. You should then be able to go ahead and fill it and have it at home, right?

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