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FRIDAY, AUGUST 25, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Plan B sensible option for morning-after pill

Plan B is what the name implies. It's not the first choice. Thus, Plan B, the morning-after-pill, isn't supposed to be a more convenient form of birth control, but rather a procedure to prevent pregnancy when Plan A isn't in play.

The Food and Drug Administration this week made a much-needed change in its policy about dispensing the pill. No longer will women have to get a doctor's prescription to get the pill, if they are 18 or older. That is significant because timing is critical in preventing pregnancy. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, a woman can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.

And, Plan B is not an abortion pill. It is nothing more than a concentrated dose of the same drug found in the birth control pills millions of women take today.

If a woman is already pregnant, the pill will have no effect, medical experts say. They estimate that making the pill available from pharmacists could eliminate half the nation's 3 million annual unplanned pregnancies.

The pills will still be available to females younger than 18 with a prescription from a doctor. But, as usual, not everybody is happy that the pills will be non-prescription, and some are unhappy that the age cutoff is 18 for over-the-counter sales.

But the change represents a practical advance in preventing unwanted pregnancies, thus resulting in fewer abortions. Being readily available, with proper photo identification that verifies age, could make the pill Plan A for some people, but even with those instances, Plan B is going to lessen the tragedy of rape and incest in many cases.

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