Should We All Be Stockpiling Plan B Right Now?

Health Information Relationships

In early May, when Politico published the leaked draft of the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, searches for the emergency contraceptive Plan B spiked, according to Google Trends data. And when the decision became official, in late June, they spiked again, much higher this time. On social media a familiar cry echoed: Stock up on Plan B while you still can.

Amid a stripping away of reproductive rights, the urge to keep whatever resources are available on hand is understandable. And Plan B is a really good resource. When used correctly, Plan B is up to 89% effective at preventing an unwanted pregnancy. But as quickly as there were cries to stock up on the emergency contraceptive, there were plenty of people saying the opposite: Avoid the urge to panic buy and don’t stockpile Plan B. So if you want to make sure you have access should you ever need it, what’s the right move?

Should I stockpile Plan B?

“There’s nothing wrong with having one, two, or even three doses for personal use,” Steph Black, an abortion activist and writer in Washington, D.C., tells SELF. But Black adds that buying 10-plus doses from your local Walgreens, with plans to distribute them around your community, is likely less useful than you want it to be.

In fact, Black says that planning to stock up on Plan B and act as “some sort of Plan B fairy” is potentially doing more harm than good. There are already community organizers with systems in place to distribute emergency contraception quickly and efficiently, and they likely know more about how to allocate resources than someone who panic-bought a bunch of pills. Rather than hoarding in the hopes of handing Plan B out to those in need, you’re better off supporting existing infrastructure, Black says. That could look like donating the money you would have spent to an abortion fund or to a clinic that distributes free emergency contraceptives in your area.

How can I ethically stock up on Plan B for myself?

If you want a personal stash—a good idea, given that Plan B is most effective within 72 hours, and is even more effective if taken within 24 hours—Black recommends buying your pills online.

There are several reasons for this: One is that, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, some pharmacies, including Rite Aid, began limiting the number of Plan B pills one customer could buy at a time. Another is that buying the pills online ensures that doses remain on local store shelves for those who live nearby and can’t wait on shipping. The third is that buying a store’s entire Plan B supply creates what Black calls a “contraception desert.”

Reproductive health care is community care, and when you clear the shelves of Plan B, you’re taking resources from an already marginalized group,” Black says. “Not everybody has the resources to get things shipped or to wait to get things delivered. It’s a very time-sensitive medication, so if you’re buying it to have it on hand, and you can wait an extra week until it comes, that’s what you should be doing.”

Anything else I should know about taking Plan B?

Beyond taking emergency contraception as soon as possible—hence the utility of having a pill on hand—Plan B does have a few additional rules you should know about.

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