March 20 is “Back Up Your Birth Control” Day!

“Back Up your Birth Control with EC” is a campaign that aims to get Emergency Contraception (EC) into the hands of women before they need it. EC more effective if taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or birth control failure, so it’s important to have some on hand before a crisis happens. This is especially true given the difficulties women in some parts of the country have had in getting it. It’s also true for women under 18 who can’t buy it over the counter in most places.

Here are two important web sites with info about EC:

This oneis especially for teens.

This one is for the rest of us.

(Both sites have a listing for the 24-hour emergency hotline – 1-888-NOT-2-Late, and both link to the EC “Not-2-Late Web Site for those who cannot buy EC over the counter in their communities. You can also buy EC online at

There are a couple of very important things to know about EC (often referred to by one of its brand names, Plan B). First, is not the same as the abortion pill RU486. It is important to know that because EC works before pregnancy occurs. It is essentially a very high dose of regular birth control pills, it needs to be taken within a few days of unprotected sex if it is going to be effective at all, and is most effective if taken right away.

Second, it is not as effective as condoms or birth control pills so of course you want to be using those regularly and correctly. EC is for emergencies.

I blogged about my own experience buying EC over the counter back in November and I will repeat part of that message here: If you are a sexually active woman and you do not want to be pregnant, you definitely want to have some EC on hand in case you need it. You do not want to be in the midst of an crisis and then discover that it is hard to get hold of the pill that you need. You want it now, before you need it.

You could find yourself in need EC for any number of reasons, none of which you’re likely to have intended. So, since today is “Back up your birth control day,” add an item to your to-do list: buy yourself a dose of EC.

In fact, if you have enough money to do so, buy a couple of extra doses. You might be able to help a sister in need some day.

And here’s another important thing you can do: Tell a friend or two about EC. It might surprise you how many people don’t know that it exists, or don’t know how to get it. Considering how important it is to maintaining our sexual and reproductive freedom, we need to make sure everyone knows about it and knows how to get it!

Lastly, I’d love to know your stories: Did you try to buy some? Did you have any trouble? Was it easy to get? How did you feel when you bought it? Did you have a conversation about EC with a friend? What was it like? Leave any stories you’d like to share in the comments section of this post.

(If you’ve commented before your comments will be posted immediately. If you have not commented on this blog before, your comments will be held for moderation. Because of a family crisis I will be out of town again and may not be able to moderate comments quickly. Don’t interpret this as lack of interest or approval on my part!)

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Filed under activism, EC, Education, emergency contraception, feminism, pro-choice, public discourse, reproductive freedom, sex, sex and health, sexuality

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