Retailers Limit Purchases of Emergency Contraception

The announcements come amid surging demand in the wake of last week's SCOTUS ruling
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2022 8:52 AM CDT
Amid Surging Demand, Major Retailers Ration Plan B
This undated file photo provided by Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., shows a package of Plan B' One-Step, an emergency contraceptive. Plan B pills prevent ovulation, unlike medication abortion, which terminates pregnancy and requires a prescription.   (AP Photo/Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., File)

(Newser) – Retail giants nationwide are restricting purchases of emergency contraception in order to protect supplies and deter hoarding. The announcements come days after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion. Per the Wall Street Journal, CVS and Rite Aid are limiting purchases to three boxes per customer; Wal-Mart set limits between four and six depending on the brand. In a statement, CVS said it was implementing a temporary limit “to ensure equitable access and consistent supply on store shelves,” per CBS News. So-called Plan B or morning-after pills are intended to prevent ovulation or possibly stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall; these pills differ from those used for medication abortions, which require a prescription.

The New York Times reports that some women are stocking up “in case they or their sexually active children need to prevent a pregnancy after having sex,” while others fear new state restrictions on contraception or a widespread shortage that limits access for low-income women. “People are going to buy them and resell them at a crazy price,” said Pennsylvanian Sarah McKenna, 21. “I have friends and family who can’t always afford those things, and I wanted to ... make sure that the people who need it can have it.” Others say they feel powerless to do anything else. “I can’t just stand by and do nothing,” said one 57-year-old Californian who bought pills to ensure that her children in Arizona have choices.

Plan B pills range from about $10 to $50 apiece, and they have a limited shelf life. Planned Parenthood and other groups warned against hoarding, but they don’t blame women for purchasing the pills in advance. One expert interviewed by NPR said, “These medications are incredibly time sensitive,” and though they can be effective for up to five days after unprotected sex, the “sooner the better.” NPR also notes that, even prior to the recent SCOTUS ruling, emergency contraceptives were not as widely available or accessible in pharmacies as many people assume. (Read more Plan B stories.)

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