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I will provide emergency contraception to any woman who requests it, no questions asked, in complete privacy, free of cost.
October 22, 2006 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Emergency Kindness -- a new network dedicated to providing emergency contraception for women in need. Members ("Janes") promise to have some Plan B on hand to immediately send to women in need, whether they were denied by their local doctor or pharmacy or couldn't get to one.
posted by amberglow (60 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
[this is good]

Honestly, this might be the only answer if our various levels of government are going to continue to allow pharmacies and emergency rooms to deny women access to something safe and legal.
posted by delfuego at 11:18 AM on October 22, 2006


I think that's a great idea, and when inevitably something goes wrong, I hope it's the state that gets the blame, and not a Jane.
posted by furtive at 11:19 AM on October 22, 2006


It would make more sense for women to stockpile the stuff themselves.

Oh, by the way, that blogger we talked about last month now says she is pregnant and will have to pay for an abortion, apparently.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2006


It would make more sense for women to stockpile the stuff themselves.

I don't understand. If some women are being denied access in the first place, how could they stockpile it?
posted by scody at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2006


Bravo, although it sucks that we need this kind of thing.
posted by Quietgal at 11:35 AM on October 22, 2006


Scody: I think the argument is that if you're not under the 3-5 day deadline, you could look around until you find someone who will provide it. I suspect that's not an option for everyone, though, and the Jane-network allows for the possibility of "oh, crap, I wish I'd gotten some in the past. What do I do now?"
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2006


I think this is a great idea to really help women who run against closed-minded idiots at the worst possible time, but I can see one serious snag. If the EC pills are by prescription only, wouldn't the volunteers land themselves in serious trouble?

I'd especially think that the vindictive types who would deny these women this option with the smug "you made your bed" attitude would get a self-righteous boner over seeing one of these volunteers arrested for drug trafficking to immoral hussies.
posted by dr_dank at 11:53 AM on October 22, 2006


This is a good idea. I'll likely pick some up myself to have on-hand if a friend or loved one needs it. Did the OTC sales of this take effect yet. Hate to waste a trip to the pharmacy.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:57 AM on October 22, 2006


I think it goes OTC in January 2007.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:58 AM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


thanks, TPS
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2006


This is how we used to deal with abortions...except, abortions were actually illegal at the time.
posted by taosbat at 12:06 PM on October 22, 2006


Wonderful idea. Let's see how the Right is going to try to make this action illegal now.
posted by Falconetti at 12:18 PM on October 22, 2006


Ugh... I expect Janes will have to make in-person deliveries in disguise for their own safety. What's to stop right-wing nutjobs from posing as a woman in need and then taking Jane's picture when she shows up? I can see an online gallery of Janes for the nutjobs to look out for, then harass and threaten once they are found. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
posted by Quietgal at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm going to guess this would be possible with the help of sympathetic doctors.
posted by Talanvor at 12:43 PM on October 22, 2006


This is great! My doc (University) gave me two packets of Plan B ages ago and since I do okay at taking my regular BCPs, I've been doing just this: telling my friends that I have it if they need some. I'm signing up.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:07 PM on October 22, 2006


You know, if all of us guys would just carry and use condoms (Plan A double plus good) none of this Plan B stuff would be necessary.
posted by three blind mice at 1:26 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Let's see how the Right is going to try to make this action illegal now.

On preview, it probably already is illegal in lots of ways: dispensing controlled substances without a license, practicing medicine without a license, etc.
posted by three blind mice at 1:30 PM on October 22, 2006


(Psst: Plan B isn't a controlled substance.)
posted by neckro23 at 1:38 PM on October 22, 2006


While this is a good idea, I am driven near to insanity by the necessity of it. I mean, look: women in the United States are being forced to go underground in order to get birth control, or emergency contraception, or abortions. It's like being back in the 1950's, or a weird funhouse-mirror reflection of "The Handmaid's Tale".
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:43 PM on October 22, 2006


On preview, it probably already is illegal in lots of ways: dispensing controlled substances without a license, practicing medicine without a license, etc.

Really, it's almost dangerous. What could stop some nutjob from signing up and providing poisoned EC? It's a nice idea, but I think the site will and should be shut down.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:46 PM on October 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


three blind mice, condoms sometimes break so this plan B stuff would still sometimes be necessary. Not to mention that women are sometimes raped or that people sometimes are stupid.
posted by substrate at 1:51 PM on October 22, 2006


if all of us guys would just carry and use condoms (Plan A double plus good) none of this Plan B stuff would be necessary.

Condoms break or slip. I had to use Plan B this year for that very reason.

What could stop some nutjob from signing up and providing poisoned EC

It's provided (at least how I received it) in a sealed blister pack, which I assume are very difficult to tamper with.

But if we're really worried about nutjobs, what's to stop any of them when it goes OTC?
posted by scody at 1:55 PM on October 22, 2006


Great idea! Going to have to try to figure out if I can afford to become part of this. That is the kicker...funding.
posted by QIbHom at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2006


ThePinkSuperhero writes "What could stop some nutjob from signing up and providing poisoned EC?"


Damn, I have to agree it is dangerous. Yet the idea can work vey well, maybe betterm on a local level, between girl friends who already know each other and trust each other.


delmoi writes "Oh, by the way, that blogger we talked about last month now says she is pregnant"

I would like to chase these who decide she didn't need Plan B and held them responsible for the child welfare , and I mean by law. After all , if you moral code dictates that the life of "child" is more important then any other consideration, therefore it must follow that it must be more important then your own personal well being. Clearly the person refusing to give Plan B is morally responsible for the kid and so should support the kid financially, as if he/she was a parent.

Now let' see how moral some people really are.
posted by elpapacito at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2006



Just as it is not illegal to share Tylenol or Aspirin (both OTC drugs), it would not be illegal to share Plan B.
posted by Maias at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2006


Are people thinking that Plan B is going to be hard to get once it is available OTC?
posted by smackfu at 2:15 PM on October 22, 2006


It's provided (at least how I received it) in a sealed blister pack, which I assume are very difficult to tamper with.

I would think it would be easy enough for any nutjob to make new packaging. And if you're not buying it from a store, how would you know? "Ok, here's the pills; sorry they're not in the box, I took them out so they'd fit in my medicine cabinent" and on and on. Combine that with this being women who are desperate enough to get prescription medication from someone online and I could easily see it happening.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:34 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Are people thinking that Plan B is going to be hard to get once it is available OTC?

It will be--many pharmacists are going to refuse to stock it entirely. And Walmart, who had to be forced to stock it, said that all their individual pharmacists are allowed to deny it to customers if they want.
posted by amberglow at 2:47 PM on October 22, 2006


Bruce Sterling predicted this in his short story, "Are You For 86?" first published in 1992.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:48 PM on October 22, 2006


This is interesting: Q: Can a pharmacist provide EC to a man if it is for his girlfriend/wife/partner?
A: Yes, if they show proof of age that they are over 18 (after Plan B becomes available OTC). Men under 18 do NOT have the option to obtain a prescription for Plan B®, nor to get EC through pharmacy access.

posted by amberglow at 2:51 PM on October 22, 2006


amberglow writes "are allowed to deny it to customers if they want."

Ohhh now that is precious ! Afaik walmart stopped the sale of weapons in some of their shop, but I don't know it they stop altogheter.

Necessarily, Walmart immediately needs to allow its employes NOT to sell weapons, for they provoke death.
posted by elpapacito at 2:58 PM on October 22, 2006


I feel like this idea is laudable, exciting, and utterly the wrong way to go about ensuring safe, reliable, access to emergency contraception. Although I can definitely sympathize with the sense of direct action that this process generates, I think that its structure inherently limits its ability to confront unavailability of Plan B in a given community. How many Janes live in communities where Plan B is not widely available? How will they make themselves known as an option to other women in their community, even those outside of their immediate social group? More explicitly, I think that this network may work just fine... for the Metafilter demographic.
Access to emergency contraception in a 'hostile' environment is controlled by successive layers of knowledge: first, knowledge that emergency contraception is even available as an option, second, knowledge of a physician that will prescribe it, third, knowledge of a pharmacist that will dispense it. Adding a fourth layer on top of this will help only a few women who bottom out on the first three. Ultimately, we need to confront the underlying issues that control access: ensuring that women within the system get the care they need. Hopefully, OTC availability of Plan B will soon remove the second as an issue, so the tasks remaining are to increase awareness of Plan B as even an option, and to place as much pressure on pharmacies to provide it as possible. I think that the first can provide the third: if women see access to contraception as an issue and actually demand it from pharmacies, at least the major chains will feel an incentive to ensure access to it.
posted by monocyte at 3:26 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is a source for the history of the first Jane movement, which assisted women with underground abortions in pre-Roe times.
posted by ltracey at 4:29 PM on October 22, 2006


I forget how lucky I am to live in Northern California, where receiving a packet of Plan B is as easy as going to your local free clinic.

I can only imagine how awful this situation must be: a condom breaks or a moment of thoughtlessness takes over, and you have some pharmacist telling you that he won't sell you plan b because it's against his religious beliefs (or whatever the case may be). It's like that pharmacist is playing God, determining the future of a scared woman that is trying to do the right thing instead of bringing a child into the world when she is not ready and giving up her own life and perhaps also the possiblity of acheiving her hopes and dreams.
I for one hope the Jane movement finds a way to help those that need it. Modern medicine has given us something truly useful and it's a shame to not use it when it's needed.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 4:47 PM on October 22, 2006


I had heard that EC is actually just a series of birth control pills taken for a higher dose. If this is so, why aren't doctors suggesting that people get the pill and take x many pills as EC?
posted by jb at 4:54 PM on October 22, 2006


jb, not all birth control pills are the same. My understanding is that the "take x amount of pills" route only works for certain kinds of BC.

Shit like this makes me sick to my stomach. I always wondered though if it was possible for the women who are denied EC to take legal action against those pharmacists and doctors. For instance, in Biting Beaver's case she now has to pay the higher cost of an abortion and deal with the emotional strain of going to the clinic. Not to mention the fact that after posting her original entry she recieved death threats. I'm not a lawyer, but is there anything preventing her from suing those who denied her needed medication? And if she did would she be successful?

On the whole I'm very grateful that I live in a state where EC has been OTC for the while, but it pisses me off so damn much to think about how backwards so much of the country is on this issue.
posted by kosher_jenny at 5:25 PM on October 22, 2006


jb, not all birth control pills are the same. My understanding is that the "take x amount of pills" route only works for certain kinds of BC.

That makes sense. I was just thinking that if there are any alternatives to EC in the form of several birth control pills, than this information (what kind of BC, how many pills, risk factors, etc) could be potentially more effective than something like this Janes plan, since it's easier to get BC than EC. Women could get birth control pills, and stock them up against when they need EC.
posted by jb at 5:42 PM on October 22, 2006


For information on which birth control bills can be used as EC and the dosage, see the Princeton EC site. It also has a database of health care providers and pharmacists who are willing to dispense EC. There is also a list of what EC is available in various countries.

In Australia, EC as a specific product is fairly new (~4 years?) and now available OTC (and as far as I know, there are none of the issues about availability that exist in the US). However, prior to that, doctors would use bill control pills and provide the correct dosage level required.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:58 PM on October 22, 2006


since it's easier to get BC than EC. Women could get birth control pills, and stock them up against when they need EC.

Only if you already have a prescription to one of the correct combo pills, or go to a doctor willing to give you a "preventative" prescription, or live in an area with a Planned Parenthood or similar clinic -- situations that most definitely do not apply across the board for all women and girls in this country.
posted by scody at 5:58 PM on October 22, 2006


I live in a state where I'm willing to bet it will be almost impossible to get EC unless you're in Austin or know a compounding pharmacist.

This has just gotten scary. Many who have performed duella duties (sort of a midwife's helper), are being asked if will undergo training that would teach how to safely perform abortions when they become illegal. Most medical people believe that it's not a question of "if", but "when".

I've been fighting the front line of the prochoice movement more than two decades. My generation will be the only generation that had access to full reproductive options. By the time my son is old enough to impregnate someone, the odds of abortion being easily available to anyone not a member of the priviledge class is slim to nothing.

This New Jane movement bears some investigation. It is something that many of us were considering doing anyway...stocking it and selling it at locations external to the pharmacies that refuse to stock it. We've been investigating the legal ramifications.

If you want to stay on the absolute side of legality, what you should do is contact every pharmacy in your area. Find out who will and who won't be dispensing the drug OTC. Make a list with addresses, contact numbers and hours. Post it somewhere. Link to it publicly. Update it frequently. Boycott any corporation who allows their pharmacists to impose their religion on your right to medical attention.
posted by dejah420 at 6:02 PM on October 22, 2006


People should, like, not live in crappy states.
posted by smackfu at 6:30 PM on October 22, 2006


George_Spiggott : Bruce Sterling predicted this in his short story, "Are You For 86?" first published in 1992.

Hmm, funny that you mention that. I just re-read Globalhead about a month ago.

smackfu : Are people thinking that Plan B is going to be hard to get once it is available OTC?


Sudafed is supposed to be legal over the counter, but they are doing a pretty bang up job of making that difficult to get.

elpapacito : I would like to chase these who decide she didn't need Plan B and held them responsible for the child welfare , and I mean by law.

Intriguing idea. How great would it be for some woman who is denied access to Plan B to demand the pharmacist's identification and have him served with child support papers? He is, after all, conditionally responsible for that child birth. A really skilled laywer could almost pull something like this off in court.

I doubt it would ever happen, but if it did, I bet it would be a hugely high profile case.
posted by quin at 6:53 PM on October 22, 2006


Let's see how the Right is going to try to make this action illegal now.

The plan as it stands now is in a gray area for sure. Were the 'Right' the make it outright illegal it would only further strengthen EK and get them far more support I believe.

Anyhow, I'm not sure if you've figured this out yet but the 'Right' is in no hurry to do anything about Abortion. They use it to get the votes of people who feel abortion is more important than say; liberty. Along with the people who think the people running against the 'Right' are trying to take guns and marry gays, these single-issue voters are the bread and butter of the Republican 'evangelical' base. We're they to make abortion illegal then they would galvanise their opposition and seriously undermine their vote getting ability (Or their politicans could ask teen-age boys if they make them horny).

On preview; I'm surprised that no one's started a group of say, 'Steves'; ordained reverends who will marry gays and lesbians yet.
posted by DragonBoy at 8:06 PM on October 22, 2006


"But if we're really worried about nutjobs, what's to stop any of them when it goes OTC?"

Nothing, but getting it OTC from a pharmacy certainly lowers the Internet Whackjob Factor.

I hope we see the day where pharmacists are disallowed from selectively serving customers. When I work as an EMT, I am most certainly not allowed to deny care based on my religious or moral beliefs. I don't think that a pharmacist should have that option.

Heck, I think Plan B should be available at every pharmacy, drug store, and AM/PM.
posted by drstein at 8:42 PM on October 22, 2006


Pharmacies are private businesses, and forcing someone to sell a product is a horrible idea.

If you want state-controlled pharmacies, you need state-run pharmacies.
posted by smackfu at 9:21 PM on October 22, 2006


Next time you go to the pharmacy, ask if they'll stock Plan B OTC in January. If they say no, tell them you are taking your business elsewhere.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:13 PM on October 22, 2006


On preview; I'm surprised that no one's started a group of say, 'Steves'; ordained reverends who will marry gays and lesbians yet.
Reverends can't bestow access to the over 1000 rights and benefits civil marriage provides. That's why. There already are many Reform Rabbis, and a growing number of Christian clergy, who do perform ceremonies.

Pharmacies are private businesses, and forcing someone to sell a product is a horrible idea.
Except for the fact that they're imposing their religious beliefs (not moral beliefs, btw) at the expense of doing their job--which they are licensed by the state to do. You can't just be a pharmacist, but must be licensed and overseen by the state and local authorities for the entirety of your career. There's no such thing as a truly private pharmacist in reality.
posted by amberglow at 6:18 AM on October 23, 2006


On preview; I'm surprised that no one's started a group of say, 'Steves'; ordained reverends who will marry gays and lesbians yet.

The first legally recognised gay marriages in Ontario (two men and two women) were performed by an ordained minister who figured out how to get around the government's marriage liscence system - he used the ancient practice of calling the banns, which is still a legal way to get married without a liscence in Ontario (it predates liscences by some hundreds of years).

They had to fight for their rights at the province's supreme court, but it worked.
posted by jb at 7:04 AM on October 23, 2006


Extremely inspiring and necessary stuff
posted by juliarothbort at 7:10 AM on October 23, 2006


I love this - I love to see women helping women. When it's over the counter, I'm going to buy some to have ready in case any friends need it.
posted by agregoli at 7:29 AM on October 23, 2006


When the drug does go OTC, this sort of thing should happen as a matter of course. Those of us who live in places where there is unquestioned and ready access to Plan B, just like Tylenol or Maalox, should buy a stock for each of our friends (who would want it) who don't experience improved availability. I'm not sure why there hasn't already been a movement among women in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico and Washington to stock and share EC across the country.

However, we've seen Walgreens order pharmacists to fill EC prescriptions regardless of their personal objections, and Eckerd, Rite Aid and CVS all have corporate policies to stock EC (unlike WalMart) and such chains have always been much better sources for these drugs, overall, than independent druggists' shops. Disturbing as it may be from an economic standpoint, the further proliferation of chains into smaller and more exurban areas, coupled with the profit motive which drives chains' purchasing policies, may be what makes all the difference in the world once EC is available over the counter and thereby freed from the constraints of prescription pricing policies and removed from the purview of any individual pharmacist.
posted by Dreama at 8:59 AM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


once EC is available over the counter and thereby freed from the constraints of prescription pricing policies and removed from the purview of any individual pharmacist.
But it won't be out on open shelves at all, anywhere. It'll only be behind the pharmacy counter, and customers will have to go to the people working there and specifically ask for it. It's also restricted to those over 18.
posted by amberglow at 11:09 AM on October 23, 2006


As a layman, their legality claim sounds good to me:
As we are not reselling this drug, we are breaking no laws. (Remember the time the girl in the next cubicle over asked you for an Advil when she was having a headache and you gave her one? This is basically what we're doing here, but with Plan B.)

As stated in the USPS postal guidelines, it is legal for us to mail Plan B because it is not an abortion device nor is it an unsolicited sample of a contraceptive.


Anyone better informed than me care to comment ?
posted by forwebsites at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2006


Pharmacies are private businesses, and forcing someone to sell a product is a horrible idea.

I agree that is it not the best idea, but then if a pharmacist can refuse, why should the exercise of his/her choice to NOT give Plan B become an obstacle for other people ? As one can't possibily predict moral changes, nor dictate them, other people should be able to sell Plan B even outside a pharmacy ; yet this is potential dangerous as a black market of fake Plan B could develop.


How great would it be for some woman who is denied access to Plan B to demand the pharmacist's identification and have him served with child support papers?

On a second tought, even if the idea appeared to be fine to me, I think it would be quite hard to prove that the pharmacist refusal CAUSED the pregnancy, as one unscrupolous woman could find a person opposing Plan B, get "his/her id" and after that get pregnant the very day or the day after.
posted by elpapacito at 5:55 PM on October 23, 2006


elpapacito, I don't disagree. I doubt anyone could prove that the pharmacist caused the pregnancy, but I am willing to bet that a really skilled lawyer could convince a jury that there is a distinction between initiating a pregnancy (to wit, having sex with the mother) and being responsible for the child's birth.

As I say that, understand that I truly hate frivolous law suits. I believe that the litigious nature of the United States has brought us no end of trouble. But a skilled lawyer and a clever media release could convince people that, by not dispensing the medicine that the FDA had approved safe for over the counter purchase, safe enough that it did not require the intervention of a doctor, safe in the same way that aspirin is safe, the pharmacist forced this person (who of course would never consider anything as unsavory as an abortion) to have a child she didn't want. And all she's asking in return is for help paying for the costs of delivery and it's upbringing.

My guess is that the petitioners case would get shot down (and rightly so, it's an absurd concept), but as history has indicated, a failed attempt that is visible enough will still have an effect on the landscape. And people considering going into the pharmatological field, might consider that if their beliefs run counter to something that might get them dragged into court, that it might be in their best interests to switch majors.
posted by quin at 10:06 PM on October 23, 2006


Quin has a point. I don't think the case could win in the courts...but I'd be willing to bet it would make a huge difference in the public arena.
posted by dejah420 at 9:18 AM on October 24, 2006


GAO says “Abstinence Only” Sex Ed Must Change
posted by homunculus at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2006


What is the GAO (for the many non-Americans)?
posted by jb at 3:52 AM on October 25, 2006


jb, the GAO is the Government Accounting Office. They are a kind of auditor for the US federal government. Then are known for occasionally popping up, and declaring that something that Congress or the Executive branch (the President and his minions) want to do or have done is either illegal, against guideles or a waste of money. They have historically been fiercely non-partisan, although Dubya and crew have tried to change that, of course.
posted by QIbHom at 6:29 AM on October 25, 2006


s/guideles/guidelines.
posted by QIbHom at 6:30 AM on October 25, 2006


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