Morning-after pill praised and denounced

While most colleges and universities offer contraceptives without second thoughts, emergency contraceptives have slowly become a common practice to offer to patients, said Dr. Egilda Terenzi, director for USF Student Health Services.

USF is one of the colleges that offer emergency contraception — the so-called “morning-after pill” or the “72 hour pill” — to its students.

“We have been offering it for years,” Terenzi said.

Terenzi added that SHS offers what is called Plan B, which is a high dose of progesterone that makes it hard for the egg to implant and creates a heavy mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to travel to the egg.

“We recommend patients to get (the pill) close to the 72-hour period because the closer, the better the chance of preventing pregnancy,” she said.

Wendi Grassi, director for public affairs for Planned Parenthood, said their clinics also offer Plan B for their patients and added that a lot of people are not aware of emergency contraceptives or get them confused with the abortion pill, RU-486.

“We are concerned that people do not know about it, and we have student chapters on campus to help promote awareness of them,” Grassi said.

VOX, which is the student chapter of Planned Parenthood at USF, is headed by Laura Perez and is just in the premature stages of organizing.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about emergency contraceptives and the reproductive rights that women and men have,” Perez said.

Perez, a senior, said VOX was made official last semester and one of the first things she did was call SHS to see if they offered emergency contraceptives.

“Its good to know that they have it,” Perez said.

However, The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a pro-life organization that travels around the country, said on its Web site that even though the effect of the “morning-after pill” is different from RU-486, the pills induce abortion. The morning-after pill produces large doses of hormones that work to prevent ovulation and/or fertilization. If the emergency contraceptive prevents a fertile egg from implanting, then it is similar to abortion, according to CBR’s Web site, the main argument being that life begins at fertilization.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages all of its members to routinely give its patients a prescription for emergency contraception pills in case of need and also advises them to provide education about the 72-hour pill. The college also supports the sales of pills over the counter.

“It takes a lot to inform and make people aware of emergency contraceptives,” Grassi said. “I would like to see it in everyone’s medicine cabinet, to have just in case.”

Terenzi said the common medical practice of offering emergency contraceptives is to do everything they can to help the student if needed.

“We are on call 24/7, so if something happens at 3 a.m., they can call us, and we can call in a prescription at 3 a.m.,” she said. “We want to help.”