Campaign aims to ensure EC availability at all pharmacies
Planned Parenthood’s volunteer group the “Pill Patrol” is making advancements at pharmacies throughout the nation to ensure emergency contraception’s availability over the counter in nearly every neighborhood.
Planned Parenthood launched this campaign to end discrimination or delay to all women who must play a guessing game as to whether their pharmacy will sell EC over the counter to women 18 and older.
“We believe a woman should not have to leave a pharmacy without a prescription filled . all legal prescriptions should be filled on site without delay,” said Daniel Kessler, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
According to the Planned Parenthood Web site, “EC contains hormones found in birth control pills and prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation or fertilization … (it) must be started up to 120 hours – five days – after unprotected intercourse to reduce the risk of pregnancy. The sooner it is started, the better. EC reduces the risk of pregnancy by 75-89 percent when started within 72 hours.”
The Pill Patrol campaign has been gaining momentum during the past two years with 3,000 members nationwide and 70 members in Colorado.
“I believe it started because of the growing number of women who were upset because of the delay (on prescriptions being filled and EC availability),” Kessler said.
As of August 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sales of over-the-counter EC. Under this new regulation, pharmacies are now required to carry EC and distribute it without any judgment or delay.
Planned Parenthood said the refusal to sell EC over the counter is unacceptable and that this form of discrimination puts the health of women at risk.
“That’s why we’ve asked you for help. Working together, we’ll make sure pharmacies change their policies so women are guaranteed access to EC,” according to Planned Parenthood’s Web site.
“We are shining a national spotlight on pharmacies that are not pro-woman,” Kessler said.
The group encourages its supporters to join and make sure contact pharmacies in their local areas abide by the FDA’s regulations.
The group also offers a list of questions on its Web site that volunteers, also known as “secret shoppers,” can ask when they contact the pharmacy. The questions range from the name of the person who answered the phone; is EC available (why or why not); how much does it cost; and, if it is not available or in stock, would the pharmacy order it for the woman.
However, the most important part of this entire process is making sure volunteers report their findings because these reports allow Pill Patrol to verify if the pharmacy refused to sell EC and why.
If the pharmacy did refuse to sell EC over the counter, the group would demand meetings with the pharmacy and pressure the pharmacy to sell EC through rallies, letter-writing campaigns and advertisements in local newspapers.
But is this an invasion of pharmacies’ privacy?
“I don’t feel like this is an invasion of privacy (for the pharmacies) because there are secret shoppers for everything,” said Emmy Danielski, a senior business management major. “The group’s findings might come across a store who didn’t sell it, and it might help them realize its importance.”
In fact, just last week a major gain was made for Pill Patrol when Wal-Mart, one of the major corporate pharmacies who had yet to comply with the new regulation, signed a policy in agreement with Planned Parenthood to sell EC without discrimination or delay over the counter.
Target is the next major corporate pharmacy the Pill Patrol is after. This is where the next round of secret shoppers will be hitting hard nationwide to see what policies are in place.
However, Target in Boulder on 2800 Pearl St., does sell EC over the counter to women 18 and older who have a valid ID that the pharmacy can scan.
“On average, we get one woman a day who wants it,” said Jennifer, a pharmacy technician who declined to give her last name to avoid reprimand at her job.
Jennifer said her Target pharmacy started to sell EC over the counter about four months ago, and it costs $45.99.
However, Planned Parenthood also insists EC is not to be used as a backup to birth control and should not be used as a regular form of birth control.
“I think (Pill Patrol) is trying to prevent headaches from occurring that are happening in the abortion world,” said Charlie Hildreth, a senior news-editorial major. “I believe, however, that education needs to be there, too, for a person who is using this pill so that it is not abused and used all the time because you are irresponsible.”
Danielski said she is torn because EC is a good resource to have in case a mistake occurs, but it is important to see a doctor for regular examinations.
“I’m for the EC pill, but I don’t think it should be abused,” Danielski said.
According to Kessler, Planned Parenthood and Pill Patrol are working together to ask people to look out for the best interests of women and to help prevent unintended pregnancies.
For more information on Pill Patrol and its campaign, contact its Web site. for more information.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Elizabeth Stortroen at email@example.com
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