Yes, the morning-after pill, also known as the Emergency Contraception pill, is still legal in all 50 states.
The morning-after pill is contraception, not abortion. It works by delaying ovulation and will not harm a pregnancy. And your right to *contraception* was not changed by the Supreme Court decision that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.
Emergency contraception is sold under brand names Plan B, Aftera, Next Choice, One Dose, Fall Back Solo, My Way, Take Action, and the generic levonorgestrel tablet. They’re available over the counter (OTC) without a prescription–in clinics, superstores like Target and Walmart, and online to people of all ages. Only the brand ella® requires a prescription. (See our previous post below for more information on emergency contraception and what’s different about ella®.)
Retail prices can range from $7 to $40. They all contain about the same amount of the same active ingredient (levonorgestrel), so they are all equally effective. It may be worth shopping around to find the best price. If you have insurance and can get a prescription, you might be able to get insurance to pay for it.
Free or low-cost EC (in addition to other reproductive health care services) are also available at clinics and community health centers (see below for a list of nearby clinics). Some pharmacies and clinics, including Planned Parenthood, will provide emergency contraception for free if asked.
Although it is still legal, some states are working to restrict access to this important method of contraception. If you live in a state that bans abortion, getting Medicaid or private insurance coverage for emergency contraception may be harder. Some states (Colorado, Florida, and Tennessee at the time of writing) may allow pharmacists to refuse to carry emergency contraception–but most stores still carry it even in those states.
There are no medical reasons for these restrictions. Emergency contraception is safe and effective if taken shortly after unprotected sex.
Regular birth control pills (a combination of estrogen and progesterone) can also be used as emergency contraception if taken in higher-than-usual amounts. Regular birth control pills are less effective than the morning-after pill (75% versus 87%) and can cause more side effects, such as severe nausea. Like the morning-after pill, they are most effective the sooner they are taken up to 3 days after having unprotected sex–but the dose and dose timing is different for regular birth control pills used as emergency contraception. And the number of pills needed differs for each brand. Talk to a healthcare professional or pharmacist for guidance if this is the option available to you. Given that the morning-after pill works better, has fewer side effects, and is still available in Walmarts, Targets, clinics, and pharmacies nationwide, using regular birth control pills isn’t the preferred option (but yes, it is one option).
Be well, stay safe, and plan ahead.
Those Nerdy Girls
Correction: This article was corrected on March 2, 2023 9:06 am CT. The original version said that regular birth control taken as EC is most effective within 5 days. This is technically correct, but the source we are directing to uses the more conservative 3 days so we updated for consistency.
Correction: This article was updated again on March 2, 2023 at 4:07 pm CT to make it clear that when using regular birth control as EC, 3 days is *best* but 5 days is still effective.