The Food and Drug Administration is changing the informational packaging of the emergency contraceptive pill, Plan B One-Step, to make it clear that it is not an abortion pill, the federal agency announced Friday.
Plan B is an over-the-counter medication that can be used as a backup method of birth control to reduce the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, plan B works by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary, not by causing an abortion, the agency said.
“Plan B One-Step will not work if a person is already pregnant, meaning it will not affect an existing pregnancy,” the FDA said in a press release. “There is no evidence that the drug affects implantation or maintenance of a pregnancy after implantation, therefore it does not terminate a pregnancy.”
Until now, packaging for Plan B and generic versions of the drug have falsely claimed that taking the pill could potentially prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted. Medical professionals say this claim is not supported by scientific evidence, but labeled to get Plan B approved over-the-counter status.
As such, the FDA has revised Plan B packaging information leaflets to indicate that it does not work after fertilization, the agency said.
The US Supreme Court in June overturned the constitutional right to abortion, sparking a wave of concerns about continued access to contraception and emergency contraception. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the landmark Supreme Court rulings that established gay rights and birth control rights should be reconsidered as the federal right to abortion had been repealed.
At least eight states immediately banned all forms of abortion, including medical abortion using a pill, within hours of the Supreme Court decision.
The FDA said that since Plan B prevents pregnancy by acting on ovulation “well before implantation,” it doesn’t cause abortions.
The agency recommends that consumers talk to their doctors about emergency contraceptives so they understand “the importance of using these products as intended.”