Generally, I love being a girl. I will admit, however, that it comes with its fair share of problems. No matter how you spin it, the girl has to bear the child, which means that if there is any sort of "accident," the girl is stuck with the responsibility. Yes, there are methods of birth control, but what happens if you forget just once? The good news is you can always fall back on Plan B.
Plan B, more commonly known as the "morning-after pill," is a backup method for preventing pregnancy and is not intended for routine use. It is FDA approved, and does not currently require a prescription. If you take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it will decrease your chance of pregnancy by 89 percent.
The other day, I was reading The Badger Herald when I came upon a piece that said pharmacies that do not offer emergency contraception will be required to post a sign telling customers where they can purchase Plan B.
Although I am not against the use of Plan B as a backup method for preventing pregnancy, I do believe making it so readily available may not be the best idea. Not only could this new policy spark controversy on campus because many people see Plan B as a form of abortion, but it also could lead to dependence on Plan B, which would mean a decreased concern with the use of contraception before sex.
Personally, I believe that a woman has the right to choose whether or not she wants a child, and therefore, she may choose to use birth control methods, either before or after sex. There are some people, however, who do not share my views and believe that anything taken the morning-after conception is considered abortion. With all of the other controversy on campus and the recent disagreements between the Roman Catholic Foundation and the University of Wisconsin, it may be best to avoid further conflict.
Disregarding the possible religious backlash, I still think that increased availability of emergency contraception may lead to increased use of it as birth control. The problem here is that emergency contraception is less effective at preventing pregnancy than birth control methods used before sex, and it does not protect against STDs.
Plan B is meant as simply that: a backup plan. It should not be seen as a primary method of birth control. I fear that if it becomes more easily available, people will be less cautious before intercourse because they know that it is relatively easy to obtain Plan B after sex. Compared to condoms and a daily birth control pill, Plan B is only 89 percent effective, while male condoms, when used correctly, are 98 percent effective. Female condoms are 95 percent effective, and the pill is 95-99.9 percent effective. Clearly, pre-intercourse methods of birth control have higher success rates and therefore should be the preferred method.
Many people do not have sufficient knowledge of Plan B, and may not know that it isn't the most effective method of birth control. By making it more accessible without forcing people to learn about it, some may use Plan B improperly as their main form of birth control. This could lead to more unwanted pregnancies, since it is not as effective as other methods, as well as some uncomfortable side effects such as intense nausea.
Also, in terms of preventing STDs, Plan B is similar to the pill; neither protects you. Unless you are having sex with someone who you are positive does not have any STDs and you are positive that you do not have any STDs, you should always use a method of birth control that also protects you from STDs.
Although Plan B can be very helpful in extreme situations, it should not be anyone's primary form of birth control, and making it more easily accessible may cause that sort of response from college students. The best way to protect against both unwanted pregnancy and disease is still with the good old-fashioned condom. Don't be a fool — wrap your tool.
Gabbie Wade (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freshman intending to major in journalism.