Is Birth Control Still Legal in the U.S.?

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Birth control remains legal everywhere in the United States, though several states allow doctors and pharmacists to refuse to prescribe or dispense contraceptives, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The Supreme Court decision that overruled Roe v. Wade does not indicate that the Court would revisit past decisions about birth control.

In a concurring opinion, however, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the justices should reconsider “all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents,” including the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which ruled a ban on contraceptives unconstitutional.

Some legal experts have raised concerns that justices could apply the argument for overturning Roe to limiting access to contraceptives. As a result, those who support birth control access worry that legislators could use a ban on abortion to make birth control less available.

“We’ve seen folks falsely equating emergency contraceptives and IUDs with abortion,” said Mara Gandal-Powers, director of birth control access and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “That’s certainly something I’m concerned about.”

One concern that has been raised is whether laws, like one in Oklahoma, that ban abortion from the moment of fertilization would also outlaw intrauterine devices, or IUDs, which are designed to prevent fertilization but also can stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. (The Oklahoma law specifies that it does not apply to contraception, including Plan B or morning-after pills.)

There are two “morning-after pills” available: Plan B, which is available over the counter at drugstores and pharmacies, and Ella, which requires a prescription. Both delay ovulation and allow sperm in the reproductive tract to die out.

People concerned about pregnancy should take Plan B within 72 hours after unprotected sex. Ella can be effective for up to five days after unprotected sex.

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