Editor's Note: We at POPSUGAR recognize that people of many genders and identities have vaginas and uteruses, not just those who are women. For this particular story, we interviewed experts who generally referred to people with vaginas and uteruses as women.
Reproductive rights are undeniably under attack. In the last few years, a number of states have introduced legislation aimed at tightening restrictions on access to abortion, and even the contraceptive coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been undermined. Now, with the presidential election looming and a Supreme Court seat up for grabs, some Americans are wondering whether to stock up on the morning-after pill — because they're worried about the future of abortion rights or even that emergency contraception could be next. Nine states already allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception, and two states have laws excluding it from the ACA's contraceptive coverage mandate, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Regardless of the politics, "it is unlikely that birth control or the morning-after pill will be banned from any state in the US," Heather Irobunda, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn in New York City, told POPSUGAR. "However, there may be restrictions in certain states that may make it difficult for women to obtain them." So, should you be taking steps to ensure you're covered?
Is It Necessary to Stock Up on the Morning-After Pill?
With so much uncertainty surrounding reproductive rights, there's been buzz about stockpiling Plan B. While it isn't the only form of emergency contraception, Plan B is one of the most accessible. It and other progestin-only morning-after pills are available over the counter without a prescription. Anyone at any age can buy these pills, without a parent's consent.
Because the morning-after pill is more effective the sooner you take it, it's not a bad idea to keep it on hand. But it's probably not necessary to run to the pharmacy right now. Any restrictions on contraception that may result from a conservative majority in office or on the bench won't take effect immediately. Dr. Irobunda recommends waiting to see how the laws may change before assessing whether it's worth buying the morning-after pill in bulk.
She noted that it's perfectly safe to pick up the morning-after pill and keep it at home, as long as you don't take any expired products. If the morning-after pill is expired, it will be less effective and may not successfully prevent pregnancy, Dr. Irobunda explained. Emergency contraception can be good for up to five years, but according to the mail-order prescription company Nurx, the expiration date is based on the manufacturer date, not the date the pill was purchased. So make sure to check the expiration date, or ask a pharmacist or physician if you're concerned that the pill may be expired.
"When such an important issue as a conception is involved, I would recommend strictly following the expiration-date advisories," Felice Gersh, MD, an ob-gyn, author, and founder of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, told POPSUGAR. Because of this, Dr. Gersh suggests keeping only three or four packs of the pill at a time — you don't want to buy so many that you're unlikely to use them before they expire. (The morning-after pill should only be taken in case of emergency.)
What to Expect When Buying the Morning-After Pill
Nonprescription emergency contraception is available at many local pharmacies, and it can cost anywhere from $25 to $50, depending on where you buy it. However, it's possible you may have trouble purchasing the morning-after pill due to inconsistent policies at individual stores. If you can't get the morning-after pill close to home, there are other options.
"[Mail-order] services make it easier for women from all over the US, especially in areas where it may be more difficult to get [the morning-after pill], to have access to it," Dr. Irobunda said. She personally recommends Nurx and Bedsider. Nurx is a mail-order pharmacy that provides birth control, Plan B, and other reproductive health services, while Bedsider can help you find a medical provider if you need one.