FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 16, 2004
FEMINISTS CALL FOR NATIONWIDE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TO GET MORNING-AFTER PILL OVER THE COUNTER
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slated to make a decision on over-the-counter (OTC) status for the Morning After-Pill (brand name Plan BTM) by January 22, 2005. On Friday, January 7th, women will converge on the steps of the FDA to demand OTC status and protest the year-long delay in the approval process. We will register our protest by handing out the Morning After-Pill (MAP) to any woman who wants it, in defiance of the FDA’s medically unnecessary prescription requirement. We will be joined by Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women. Women will speak out to the FDA and the public from our own experiences not being able to get the MAP in time, due to the expense and long delays caused by the prescription requirement.
We are not alone in demanding over-the-counter status for the Morning After-Pill. On Dec. 16, 2003, two FDA advisory committees voted overwhelmingly (23-4) to recommend that the FDA eliminate the prescription requirement and grant OTC status to the MAP. More than 70 health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say it is safe for over-the-counter distribution. More than 60 U.S. newspapers have taken an editorial position in support of over-the-counter access.
In more than 38 countries, women can walk into a store and get MAP without a prescription—yet in this country women have to jump through hoops to get it.
Due to White House pressure, the FDA has dragged its feet in making this decision since February 2004. In May 2004, FDA representative Steven K. Galson announced it would delay its decision yet again, claiming there were not enough studies to prove that the drug is safe for girls under 16 years old.
Barr Laboratories, the drug company, was forced to submit a supplemental application to the FDA, requesting OTC status for women 16 and older, while the prescription requirement would remain in effect for girls younger than 16. Not only have studies shown an age restriction to be medically unnecessary, but all females would be impacted by this decision—all women will be required to produce an I.D. to prove our age. Rather than the MAP being on the drugstore shelf next to shampoo, it would be “behind the counter,” a restrictive status which is only in effect in the United States for NicoretteTM. We oppose “carding” for birth control! [more]
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Elizabeth Morrow, member of the New York State Reproductive Rights Taskforce said, “When I was 16 in rural New Hampshire, my friend and I had to call countless hospitals on the weekend, drive to a hospital over 2 hours away in the middle of the night and beg a doctor to prescribe it.” Stephanie Seguin, Chair of the Florida NOW Young Feminist Taskforce, said, “The time I needed the Morning After-Pill, I had to brave football-game-day traffic to get to the university’s infirmary, which turned out to be closed.”
“George Bush may be the president for four more years, but we will not wait four years for advances for women,” said Erin Mahoney, Chair of the New York State Reproductive Rights Task Force. “Democrat or Republican--if you do not do what is best for women, you will see us in the streets.”
Alex Leader, Chair of Redstockings Allies and Veterans, said, “It is outrageous and sexist that the FDA has stalled for a year in its decision on over-the-counter access to the MAP. When I needed the Morning-After Pill, I could not get to the doctor in time to get a prescription. I got pregnant and had an abortion. There were many more side effects of being pregnant than there are with the Morning-After Pill.”
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Who is the MAP Conspiracy? The MAP Conspiracy is a coalition of feminist organizations leading the grassroots movement to make the Morning-After Pill an over-the-counter drug. We started passing out the pills publicly on February 15, 2004. Our campaign uses speak outs and civil disobedience to highlight the injustice of the prescription requirement and to show that women are the real experts on why we need unrestricted access to the Morning-After Pill. We have held speak-outs and passed out the pill in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Gainesville, Florida. Two thousand women around the country have pledged to “Give a friend the Morning After-Pill,” defying the prescription requirement. [End]
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