Today (Wednesday) is the day Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa announced it would give away samples of the morning-after pill that’s come to be called “Plan B.” It’s emergency contraception for women who think that failed birth control or other factors may have exposed them to becoming pregnant.
Planned Parenthood C-E-O Jill June says affiliates across the country are offering one dose of the pill to encourage women to “back up their birth control.” June says the F-D-A recently approved over-the-counter distribution of Plan B, so to underscore the development the organization decided to distribute samples free to adult men and women who come into the clinics on this one day. Planned Parenthood has fifteen clinics across the state from Sioux City to the Quad Cities.
The giveaway idea doesn’t sit well with abortion foes who oppose Planned Parenthood. Rachel Cunningham with the Iowa Family Policy Center says volunteers decided to go to the clinics and take them up on their offer. They’ve been encouraging pro-lifers to go to Planned Parenthood, pick up a package of Plan B, and throw it away.
Cunningham says, “We think it’s in the best interest of women’s health, women’s safety and of course human life to keep these pills out of the hands of someone who might be tempted to use them.”
Planned Parenthood exec Jill June says the women who come to get the dose of the drug may not need it today — but they may need it someday. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you get Plan B and put it in your medicine cabinet just in case some day you might need it,” June says. “You know, accidents happen, and unfortunately a woman can be assaulted, and so Plan B can prevent unintended pregnancy from occurring if the pill is taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.”
June says the dose has a three-year shelf life so it can be stored for future use. That draws objections from opponents like Cunningham and the Family Policy Council.
She says it’s not just contraception. “This pill can end a human life,” she declares. “This pill will prevent an already-fertilized egg, a starting human being, from implanting in the uterine wall and if it can’t do that it can’t survive and so it will cause an abortion.”
Opponents also charge that men will get the pill, intending to give it to underage girls to avoid pregnancy and the risk they’ll be uncovered as sexual predators.
Cunningham says there are health and safety concerns for anyone over 18 receiving the pill any time, but she says, “Planned Parenthood making a campaign of it and handing it out for free amplify those concerns.”
June confirms the clinics gave Plan B to both men and women who came to ask for a package. “Sometimes my husband goes to the drugstore for me,” June says, “to pick up medication or cough syrup over the counter.” She says they invited “the partners of women” to come in if the woman was unable to leave work, for example, and pick it up for her. Cunningham says she heard from volunteers that they did go to clinic locations in various Iowa towns to get the pill and discard it.