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Overweight Women Stuck with the Hope and Pray Contraceptive

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December 12, 2013

It was just earlier this year that the emergency contraceptive Plan-B One Step became available for sale without a prescription. Commonly referred to as ‘The Morning After Pill’, Plan-B serves as a very important tool in empowering young people in their own sexual discourse. And as someone who has used Plan-B myself, it allows the user to feel comfortable and assured in themselves.

Imagine my surprise, however, when two weeks ago I read that Norlevo, the European equivalent of Plan-B, has been found ineffective in women over 176 lbs. To say that I was upset is an understatement. The American Plan-B pill is chemically identical to Norvelo meaning that the pill I, myself, have used may not have been effective. I may have just gotten extremely lucky. Which isn’t something you particularly want to count on when dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

When the average twenty year old American woman weighs 166 lbs, this is just not anywhere near good enough. It’s not good enough that an over the counter emergency contraceptive is useless to a large population of this country, and it’s certainly not good enough that we didn’t know this until now.

As overweight women, we already have our bodies taken from us. Through media that reinforces that beauty exists between a size two and nine, through the stereotype that overweight women are sexually “easy” and desperate, what we do with our bodies and how we should feel about them has been dictated to us for many years. And to have this one thing taken from us, the ability to use an emergency contraceptive, the opportunity to be proactive about our reproductive health, is absolutely sickening to me.

At the moment, Plan-B is the only form of emergency contraception available over the counter. With the time sensitive nature of emergency contraception scheduling an appointment with our primary care physicians is to get a prescription is not a viable option, so what can we do?

Many say that an IUD is the best option for overweight women, but if you missed out, that can run you upwards of $600. In my own situation, an IUD would be completely out of the question. I’d be stuck. Just like hundreds of other women are now stuck. Realistically, we’d have to sit and pray for our periods and until then we’d most likely suffer from a huge weight of anxiety.

In the fight for reproductive justice, this is something that we absolutely must address. The safety of overweight women across the United States has just been revealed to be not so much of a priority as we may have previously thought. It’s time for overweight women to have options, assurance, and peace of mind.

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