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Why Can’t Men Buy Emergency Contraception?

Why Can’t Men Buy Emergency Contraception?


3 minute read

They can. That’s right. It’s perfectly legal for men (and boys, and trans men, and genderfluid folks) of any age, race, or creed to purchase emergency contraception over the counter. In fact, in the United States, it’s perfectly legal for anyone to purchase Plan B One-Step or the generic form from a pharmacy without a prescription. Yet, men seem to have trouble obtaining Plan B and its alternatives. So why can't men buy emergency contraception?

Buy Emergency Contraception | Condom Depot Learning Center

Of course, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Late last year, we reported on how many American clinics are falsely denying emergency contraception to folks who both need it and are legally able to acquire it. We even wrote about the problems folks in Peru are having, being given fake emergency contraception.

So, then why are men being denied the right to purchase Plan B One-Step or generic alternatives for their partners?

A study done in 2012 after the lift on the age ban for purchased emergency contraception found that approximately 19% of pharmacies weren’t allowing men to make the purchase for their female partners. The main reason? They couldn’t verify the age of the female partners the drug was being purchased for.

Which, seeing as of the time of the study, EC was purchasable by anyone of any age, means these companies were citing and out-dated law to prevent a sale based on their own personal morals.

The study had three males, ages 19, 25, and 28 attempt to purchase EC for their partners at 100 pharmacies across three New York City neighborhoods.

Now that the age ban has been lifted, as well as the ban on selling generic EC to people below the age of seventeen, pharmacies need to be aware of the laws concerning their customers. The ramifications for an unwanted pregnancy can be positively dire for some people, regardless of their ages. It is not up to a pharmacist’s moral code to decide whether a woman can take this potentially life-saving, and completely safe medication. Remember, Plan B One-Step does not cause abortions; it merely prevents sperm and egg from ever meeting, like most forms of birth control. 

The author of the study hopes to redo it soon to see if things have changed now that word of the ruling has become more widely spread.

Here are some tips I listed in a previous EC article about what to do if you’re denied EC at your local pharmacy:

1. Remain calm.

2. Remind them that it is legal for any person of any age and gender to purchase Plan B One-Step.

3. If they still refuse to sell it to you, ask to speak to their manager or another pharmacist.

4. If they continue to refuse to sell, ask where you can go to find someone who will sell.

5. Try another pharmacy, or Planned Parenthood. Stay away from anything that labels itself as a Crisis Pregnancy Center as they do not provide EC, even though they often claim to.

6. If the pharmacy belongs to a larger company that might have a different policy, you can report them if you feel that you were treated unjustly.

You can also find EC like Plan B One-Step online. With telehealth becoming more and more widely available, even to those without insurance, you can speak with a health professional with any number of companies who can discreetly ship Plan B to you, even overnight express. 

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