“Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, loved you.”

Inspired by Merle Hoffman’s new book Intimate Wars, we’re sharing some of our own most memorable pro-choice/social justice personal actions this month. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

The first time I discovered I was pregnant I was twenty-two years old, an art school drop-out on social assistance with no home in particular. I was couch-surfing, chain-smoking and imbibing illegal substances of all kinds. The father of my foetus was a man I had known for about two months. I was crazy in love with him even though my friends disliked him and seemed concerned for my well-being. I thought he was just intensely passionate. Turns out he was intensely abusive.

When I got the news from my doctor’s office that I was not just pregnant but four weeks pregnant, I stubbed out my last cigarette and ran excitedly to tell my boyfriend the news. I had been pro-choice for years and had never, ever wanted to have kids. I had no job, no money, no permanent residence, and had just been knocked up by a virtual stranger. Logically it seemed like a no-brainer that I would have an abortion; it’s not practical to be penniless and pregnant, but on the contrary, I was ecstatic, something I never would have thought I’d feel at the prospect of becoming a “welfare mom.” No one I knew was as thrilled as I was that I was pregnant given my circumstances but I knew that becoming a mother meant becoming an adult. It meant that I had to stop messing around, start taking care of myself, and grow the fuck up. No more Gen-X slacking, no more drugs, no more all night partying. Becoming a parent gave me a focus and drive to better myself, to make myself worthy of the person growing inside me.

The second time I discovered I was pregnant I was in my mid-thirties. I had left my son’s father just before my son turned four and had been more or less on my own ever since; occasionally being involved with incredibly supportive partners. I was about five years into a fantatic career in publishing that I had worked my ass off to establish, having put myself through night school while parenting full time. I was making a decent salary, my son was happy and healthy, we lived in a great child-friendly neighborhood. I was no longer a houseless slack-ass jerk, I was a capable, confident, career-minded sole-support parent and damn proud of it.

After a few months of casually dating an old art-school friend, I realized with shock that I was pregnant. Shock because I knew the exact moment that I had become impregnanted: less than twenty-four hours before vomiting as a side effect from the morning after pill. I had rushed to the pharmacy and dutifully read the instructions and took the pills as prescribed. I wanted to do the responsible thing; concentrate on my career, continue to parent my son, and keep enjoying my hard-won life.   [Read more...]

FDA Must Lift Restrictions on Emergency Contraception

Since 2001, the FDA has dicked around with Emergency Contraception (EC), placing baseless restrictions on who can obtain it. But it looks like the walls are closing in on the FDA.

Although EC has been available — behind pharmacy counters with proof of ID — to those 18+ since 2006 and to those 17+ since 2009, it remains inaccessible for many. For example, women must approach the pharmacist and request EC; should the pharmacist’s religious beliefs conflict with providing Plan B, s/he may refuse to hand it over, under the protection of conscience clauses. And let’s not forget those under 17 who will be flat-out denied, and those (of any age) who simply can’t afford its high cost.

[Read more...]

Why is the FDA Stalling Plan B Access?

Today’s guest post comes to us from Ian Vandewalker, a Legal Fellow with the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Be sure to click on the link at the end of the post to take action and urge the FDA to approve Plan B for over-the-counter distribution.

Teva, the company that makes the morning-after pill Plan B One-Step, recently submitted an application to the FDA to make the drug available over-the-counter for women of all ages. Sound like a good thing? Well, it is and it isn’t.

Certainly any efforts to bring Plan B out from behind pharmacy counters and onto drugstore shelves – so women of all ages can purchase it – is positive, but the problem is… the FDA should have made emergency contraception fully available over the counter a long time ago.

Here’s some background explaining why, and why you should care:

The FDA’s been playing games with Plan B for almost a decade
Let’s not forget the Plan B-FDA saga started back in 2001 when the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA on behalf of over 70 medical and public health organizations to make Plan B available over-the-counter. In 2003, the drug’s manufacturers filed their own application for over-the-counter status. But the FDA, under the Bush administration, proceeded to drag out making a decision for years. The agency employed numerous stall tactics from missing application deadlines to requesting public comments. It wasn’t until the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a case against the FDA in 2005 for failing to make a decision, that the agency finally made a move… sort of. In 2006, the agency agreed to make the drug available without a prescription – but only to women 18 and older, only behind pharmacy counters and only when a woman showed photo I.D. [Read more...]

Top choice-related stories of 2010

Wow!

What a year it was for those engaged in the battle to protect a right we should all take for granted: a woman’s ability to choose. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty worn out, pretty frustrated at fighting for something I should not have to fight for, and ready to tackle 2011 with a lot of spunk, a lot of passion, and one very important friend on my side: the truth.

For those of you who missed it, here are some of the highs and lows that pro-choice warriors faced in 2010:

  • FDA approval of OTC Plan B for women under 18

http://www.medpagetoday.com/OBGYN/GeneralOBGYN/13867

  • Alaska votes in favor of parental notification

http://www.adn.com/2010/08/25/1423557/voters-approve-measure-requiring.html

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/08/25/alaskas-parental-notification-law/ [Read more...]

FDA Advisory Panel Backs New Morning After Pill

An FDA advisory panel voted unanimously to to approve a new version of the “morning after pill.” The new form of emergency contraception, will be sold under the brand name of “ella,” and it can be taken up to 5 days after sexual intercourse.

Ella is already being used in Europe. The women who took ella (also know as UPA) in the clinical trials had a higher success rate than those who took the current FDA-approved option, Plan B. The emergency contraception that is currently available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter product, works most effectively in the first 3 days after unprotected intercourse by preventing ovulation. By comparison, ella has proven to be equally effective throughout the 5 days after unprotected intercourse.

Ella is not an abortion pill. UPA, like other forms of emergency, delays ovulation and will not cause an abortion. It’s important to remember that the medical definition of pregnancy is when a fertilized egg (sperm and egg) implants into the uterus. UPA prevents fertilization by suppressing ovulation.

As of today, ella will only be available by prescription. However, more studies are being conducted to prove ella’s effectiveness for over-the-counter distribution. The FDA’s final vote for approval will happen in July or August.

For more information about ella, check out this story from NPR.

FDA Approves Generic Plan B Contraception

imagesFinally – a good piece of pro-choice news to report. Today the FDA approved a generic, prescription-only version of Plan B Emergency Contraceptive for women ages 17 and under.

Emergency Contraception is also known as “the morning after pill.” It is not an abortifacient, and it does not terminate an existing pregnancy. However, Plan B can help prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse. You can read more about it on the Planned Parenthood website.