Men are supposed to have the exact same access to emergency contraceptives, which they might be purchasing for their female partners. A new study from Columbia University finds that they don't: 20 percent of the secret male shoppers unleashed on pharmacies weren't allowed to buy Plan B.
Researchers at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health sent undercover shoppers into 158 New York City drug stores in search of emergency contraception. Nearly three-quarters of the pharmacies approached by the men created barriers in access for them, and they had a one in five chance of being denied the pills.
Of the 30 pharmacies that refused to give the guys contraception, nearly three-quarters said the woman or her ID card needed to be present at the time of purchase and 27 percent said they were out of stock.
Study author Dr. David Bell said in a release that there are a few potential reasons for these findings:
"One possible explanation, the pharmacist may have thought that to comply with the age restriction the female needed to be present. Of note this research was conducted prior to the lifting of the age restriction. A second potential explanation is that pharmacists conscientiously objected to EC overall or its purchase by males. Anecdotally, speaking with a few pharmacists about the results, the request may have been a covert way to determine the presence or lack of coercion in a relationship. "
This was a small study and it took place in one city only. But the conclusions mesh with incidences that have been reported across the US. According to the ACLU, in recent years, pharmacies in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama have denied men access to emergency pills.
The Food and Drug Administration has supported male access to over-the-counter emergency contraception since 2006.