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CNN Today

AMA Looks to Legalize Over-the-Counter Sale of Morning-After Pills

Aired December 6, 2000 - 1:26 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And there is controversy today over a proposal to make the morning-after pill, so-called, a birth control pill available without prescription. Dr. Todd Husty of CNN affiliate WESH reports on an American Medical Association resolution calling on the government to legalize over-the-counter sale.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. JOSEPH HEYMAN, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: To my knowledge, this may be the first time the AMA has indicated any feelings about a specific medication going over the counter.

TODD HUSTY, WESH CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pills like Preven and Plan B have been around for years, they were called morning-after pills, but now they're called emergency contraception pills, or ECPs, because you can actually take them up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

At the current time, you need a prescription to get them, but Tuesday, these policy-making doctors for the American Medical Association gave their support to efforts by drug companies to get approval to sell these pills over the counter.

HEYMAN: We realized that the medication was safe and effective, and so it was our council's recommendation that the most simple way of making it more available to patients is by allowing it to be over the counter.

TAMMY SOBIESKI, WOMANCARE CENTERS OF FLORIDA: I think availability and access will be easier for women, and it will reduce unintended, unplanned pregnancy, which is everyone's goal.

HUSTY: Tammy Sobieski's WomanCare Centers are now giving out five to 10 ECPs a week. Planned Parenthood is doing about the same. But what about fears that women will use these pills as birth control?

SOBIESKI: I think that taking responsibility and getting information about a best method of birth control for you is important. Emergency contraception is in addition to that. It's something that you could have available for you, or access to when those methods fail.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WATERS: The morning-after pill is different from RU-486, the abortion pill, but opponents still consider the morning-after pill a form of abortion.

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