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E.C.:
When Time is Running Out
Author: Cynthia Pérez





“My girlfriend and I were having sex and the 
condom ripped. The day after having sex I was told 
about emergency contraception, also known as E.C., 
the Morning After Pill, or Plan B. I decided to go to 
a local pharmacy, but they told me that I would have 
to wait three days. I decided to try another pharmacy 
but they said that I was under age. So, my girlfriend 
made an appointment with a local clinic and she got 
out of class 45 minutes early so that she could go. 
She ended up having to fill out a lot of papers, and 
ran out of time since she had to meet her parents at 
a certain hour. I was running out of time since the 
pill should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected 
sex. I didn’t know what to do.”
—Anonymous 17 year-old, Watsonville

After hearing this story from this local anonymous 
teen, a couple of our teen journalists decided to do 
a little investigating. Here is their story:.

I was confident that I could ask for E.C. without a 
problem, but as my “partner” and I arrived at the 
counter of a local pharmacy I hesitated. There were 
about a dozen pharmacists and a lot of people in 
line. I felt intimidated. So my “partner” went up to 
the counter and asked for E.C. The pharmacist looked 
at my “partner” like something was wrong with him. 
One of the pharmacists from the back of the room 
yelled, “Yeah, we have the morning after pill.” This 
whole time I was wondering if anyone heard. One of 
the pharmacists immediately brought me a couple of 
papers to sign and explained how to take the pill. 
Finally she asked me if I had insurance. I said that 
I didn't. She told me that it was going to be $38. My 
partner and I did not have the money so we left.

Next we decided to go to a local Watsonville clinic 
where we heard E.C. was free but they were about to 
close since it was already past four o'clock. We 
arrived and the lady was sweet. She asked me if I had 
a Family Pact Card (the green card) and I said that I 
didn’t. She grabbed one form, two forms, three forms, 
and I think she grabbed over a dozen forms for me to 
fill out. Some of the directions were a little 
confusing; I didn’t know some of the information that 
they wanted me to give out. Plus, I knew I was going 
to have to wait. It was just too much, so I left.

What happened to the anonymous teen and our teen 
journalists should not happen to you. According to 
the California Women’s Commission 2001 Priority 
Legislation Final Report, “women have access to 
emergency contraception pills without first having to 
see a physician for a prescription under the 
provisions of SB 1169.” This bill includes teens 
since the Family Code provisions law grants minors 
ages 15 and over confidential access to all pregnancy-
related care like contraception, in this case E.C. 

Recently California lawmakers passed a bill called SB 
644. This bill requires that an individual who has 
religious, moral or ethical objections to giving E.C. 
or any other legal drugs to notify in writing his or 
her employer of those objections. Then the employer 
has to find another pharmacist to step in and provide 
the drug. If no other pharmacist is available, or if 
the pharmacy does not stock E.C., then they are 
required to refer you to a nearby pharmacy or they 
have to call the other pharmacy that will provide 
E.C. in a timely manner (before 72 hours are up). 
This means that if you get E.C. at some pharmacy they 
have to at least give you the name of another 
pharmacy that will supply you with E.C. This bill was 
suggested because there were many women throughout 
California who, like our anonymous teen, were denied 
E.C. and other contraceptives. 

After that experience I think that the best thing to 
do is to get E.C. ahead of time and save it for 
emergencies so that you don’t have to worry about 
running out of time. Ingrid Dries-Daffner, the 
Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the 
Pharmacy Access Partnership, agrees and suggests that 
teens should go to their physician or Planned 
Parenthood clinic and ask for an advance prescription 
to keep on hand for future use. 

If you don’t have E.C. with you then you should go to 
the pharmacy to get it as soon as possible (it takes 
less time). To access a pharmacy that provides E.C., 
call 1-877-EC-HELPS or go to the website www.EC-
Help.org. If you don’t have the money then you 
should go to the clinic and try to get an appointment 
as soon as possible (within five days). Expect to 
fill out some forms and spend at least two hours in 
the clinic.

According to Ingrid Dries-Daffner, if a pharmacy does 
not make accommodations to ensure that a client can 
access E.C. in a “timely” manner or with “undo 
burden” you may file a complaint with the California 
State Board of Pharmacy: 
www.pharmacy.ca.gov/forms/complaint_fo
rm2.