How Much Is the Plan B Pill?

The Plan B pill serves as an emergency form of birth control, a special dose of two different birth control pills taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Approved by the FDA in 1996, it has been controversial, as some conservative political groups in the U.S. have tried to restrict its availability to young women. Groups such as Planned Parenthood have fought to make certain that Plan B is available. Reports of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for the Plan B pill have further heightened the controversy.

Identification

  • The Plan B pill is emergency contraception to stop pregnancy after unprotected sex from rape or when another contraception method failed, as in a condom that tears. It may cost from $10 to $70 depending on where it is purchased: at a drugstore, pharmacy, doctor’s office or community health center, where it may be cheapest (see Resources below). The Plan B pill contains levonorgestrol, which is the ingredient found in many birth control pills, but in a higher concentration. There are actually two pills taken for this method of birth control, one each 12 hours apart.

Significance

  • The Plan B pill has an 89 percent of preventing pregnancy and is an effective emergency contraceptive that is affordable for most people. Providing access to very affordable emergency contraception to young women and men will prevent unwanted pregnancies, especially among teenagers. Doing so will prevent very young people from becoming parents at a young age that could easily curtail their educational and career prospects. As Plan B is a non-surgical method, it is less expensive than pursuing an abortion at a later stage and much safer.

Benefits

  • Emergency contraception such as the Plan B pill is easily available through a doctor or at a community health center staffed with physicians and other professional medical staff. Having affordable emergency contraception will prevent many unwanted pregnancies. Providing emergency contraception as part of a larger family planning counseling will help young people delay having children until they are able to financially support them.

Effects

  • Low-cost emergency contraception does not encourage promiscuity, as some critics fear. Providing effective birth control will prevent unwanted pregnancies. Ideally, it is parents who undertake the role of discussing sexuality and how to practice abstinence or safe sex with their children. If parents do not take this responsibility, young people are at risk for pregnancy and contracting life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases.

Warning

  • Reported side effects of the Plan B pill–usually nausea and gastrointestinal distress–are always discussed with each female who will use it.