Google searches for Plan B pills surged as people fear future of abortion rights. But will the ‘morning-after pill’ be enough in a post-Roe world?

People were running on Google GOOG,
to check the status of emergency contraceptive pills after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion leak indicated that the court would reverse the historic Roe v. Wade ruling.

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the leaked draft, published by Politico on Monday night, was authentic but did not represent the final views of members. If Roe is overturned, the legality of the abortion would be left to the decision of the states.

Within 24 hours of the leak, Google is looking for Plan B, the most widely used emergency contraceptive brand, and its service life had grown by more than 5,000%. As of Wednesday morning, searches for “Plan B will be illegal” were up 1,500%.

Searches for other contraceptives such as Ella, a similar pill that can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex, also increased on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning on Google, but were not as large as the Plan’s searches. B.

Walgreens WITH,
+ 0.48%,
Amazon AMZN,
at Walmart WMT,
did not immediately return requests for MarketWatch feedback on whether they had seen an increase in Plan B sales following the Supreme Court leak. CVS CVS,
+ 3.03%
he said he had no updates to share on sales, but added that “emergency contraception is still available at CVS Pharmacy locations.” Foundation Consumer Healthcare (FCH), the creator of Plan B One-Step, said it did not comment on sales.

Unlike abortion pills that aim to end a pregnancy, Plan B works to prevent pregnancy before it occurs.

Unlike abortion pills that aim to end a pregnancy, Plan B works to prevent pregnancy before it occurs. It can reduce the chance of getting pregnant by up to 87% when the person takes it within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. With a shelf life of four years, it is widely available at local pharmacies and drugstores, as well as online stores such as Amazon.

Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, stands out for its relative ease of access to over-the-counter patients. It is available without a prescription for people of all ages.

Interest in the birth control pill arose when supporters of the right to abortion expressed outrage online and in protests before the Supreme Court, while many conservative politicians focused their criticism on the draft decision. made public.

While Democratic lawmakers condemned the plan, many people dreaded that restrictions on birth control and contraception could be as follows, as several conservative states already have different restrictions on abortion pills such as Mifepristone, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000.

For now, while Plan B One-Step is approved by the FDA for over-the-counter sales across the country, several states allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraceptives, such as Georgia and Arizona.

Dr. Selina Sandoval, a California-based obstetrician-gynecologist and member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said the affordability of contraceptive options depends largely on a person’s health coverage.

A single Plan B package costs almost $ 50 on Amazon, around the same price range as Ella. While the Affordable Care Act requires that most private health plans cover IUDs without a co-payment, they can cost up to $ 1,300 without insurance coverage.

Affordability would not be the only issue. A 2021 article in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law found that a significant proportion of the population in each state, ranging from 17% to 53%, live in “contraceptive deserts.” The main reason behind this is inadequate funding for family planning and the state has not fully implemented Title X, the only federal policy for reproductive health care.

The barrier to getting contraceptives is the same as the barrier to accessing abortion, Sandoval said. The most affected groups will be black and brown women, women in poverty and the LGBTQ + community.

Even when used correctly, Sandoval also pointed out that emergency contraceptives have their limits: they only work for people who know they had unprotected sex the night before and many women don’t know it. Possible failures of birth control methods may include condom failures and misuse of daily birth control pills, which is why all kinds of care options are needed, including abortion, he said.

Although search trends suggested an increase in interest in Plan B, the pill also has a weight limit that does not cover the majority of the American population.

Sandoval said Plan B effectiveness rates fall with people weighing more than £ 150, “which is the vast majority of patients I see,” he said. The average body weight of women in the United States is 170.8 pounds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the years, the effective rate of Plan B pills in relation to body mass index (BMI) and weight is hotly debated. The FDA addressed concerns in 2016 about populations over 165 pounds or with a BMI above 25 kg / m2 by conducting a data review. In the end, he decided that “these data are contradictory and too limited to draw a definitive conclusion.”

Jessica Shepherd, MD, a Dallas-based gynecologist, told Women’s Health that it is generally recommended that people go ahead and take Plan B regardless of their weight or BMI. However, the effectiveness may go down.

There are other contraceptives that are looser in terms of body weight. It works similarly to Plan B and works well for people with a higher body weight, but also suggests a £ 195 limit. An IUD, short for intrauterine device, is a small device that is inserted into the uterus and works regardless of body weight.

None of these options are as easy to access as Plan B: She requires a prescription and an IUD often involves two visits to a health care provider.

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