(NEW YORK) — The use of emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill or Plan B, has more than doubled among American women in recent years according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a study that surveyed use of emergency contraception from 2006 to 2010, 11 percent of sexually active women have used emergency contraception at least once, up from 4 percent in 2002.
The morning-after pill, which helps to prevent pregnancy after sex, was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, and initially required a prescription. Today, emergency contraception is available over the counter for adults.
According to the CDC study, use of the morning-after pill is highest among women aged 20 to 24. One in four women in that age range have used emergency contraception at least once.
The report is of particular note due to legislation from the Obama Administration that requires most employers to provide free coverage of contraception, including Plan B, to female employees. Some employers, including a number of religious institutions, have filed lawsuits aiming to prevent enforcement of that legislation.
Based on the CDC’s data, education was a factor in the use of emergency contraception. 12 percent of women with at least a bachelor’s degree reported having used the morning-after pill while 11 percent of women with just some college education reported using the pills. The report also showed that just 7 percent of women with a high school diploma or GED said they had ever used Plan B.
The lowest rate of emergency contraception use was in women without a high school diploma, just 6 percent of whom said they had ever used morning-after pills.
A separate CDC study learned that 99 percent of sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 44 have used at least one form of contraception during their lifetime, a number slightly higher than the previous study from 2002.
The most common reasons women gave for their use of emergency contraception were fear of method failure (45%) or having had unprotected sex (49%).
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