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Plan B, the first emergency contraception (EC), became available in 1999, but only to those who could secure a prescription. It wasn’t until 2013—after a decade of fighting by reproductive justice advocates—that the medication became available over the counter and to people of all ages. While EC is simply a higher dose of the hormones in birth control pills, it has been enveloped in controversy. Several states allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense EC based on their political beliefs, something called conscientious objection—which reproductive justice advocates oppose. Some say that claims for the need for conscientious objection further confusion about how emergency contraception works. EC is totally different from an abortion pill. EC prevents pregnancy while the abortion pill ends pregnancy. More recently, the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which returned more power to individual states to regulate abortion, has generated fear about the future availability of contraception. In the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, there was a spike in demand for emergency contraception, prompting drug stores to ration the product to avoid shortages. The Dobbs decision was also cited in an article about an initiative to increase the number of EC vending machines on college campuses. At least 35 campuses in 33 states now have EC vending machines!

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