Over-the-Counter Plan B Sparks Medical Conversation - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Over-the-Counter Plan B Sparks Medical Conversation

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This week, a federal judge ruled the Morning-After Pill, also known as Plan B, could be available to anyone - even teenagers - no questions asked. Now, health advocates in the area are weighing in - some calling it a milestone, while others say it's a dangerous move.

For many, it's a social issue and it's a moral issue. But health advocacy groups say it's not about right or wrong, it's about the best way to deal with the reality that teens are having sex - an issue that is complicated.

Now that the age restrictions are off and Plan B is soon to be available over the counter, it's sparking a wave of debate in the medical community.

"Emergency contraception is something that is best in the first 24 hours. It's been approved by the pediatricians, the American Medical, the scientists at the Food and Drug. Why not?," said Kobby Hoffman of Charlottesville National Organization for Women (NOW). 

Dr. Kathy Phan of Forest Lakes Family Medicine says cutting out the middleman could be dangerous, particularly when it comes to side effects.

"When it was prescription only we were prescribing some anti-nausea medicine to take with it. Vaginal bleeding is much more severe than you would expect, so they do need to be followed in case they're not feeling well," said Phan.  

Supporters argue that it would be ideal for parents and doctors to be involved, but the reality shows otherwise - that teens are having sex and need a way to take the reins on their health immediately.

"It's really important that we engage young women earlier and earlier to understand that they're in control. They're in control of their bodies and they need to negotiate their own heath, so for us it's a great opportunity to begin that dialogue," said Peter DeMartino, Aids Services Group (ASG) executive director.

One of the ways ASG hopes to empower young women is to make sure they have the proper tools. ASG has been advocating the use of the female condom as part of its outreach - a reminder that women don't have to put their health in a man's hands.

"I think we just have to trust the girls and the women of Virginia. That's the best way to go," said Hoffman.

Plan B costs about $50. Phan says most doctors could prescribe a less expensive version and provide a doctor's visit at the same price - that way women would know exactly what they are getting into. 

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