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Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the Letter to the Editor written by Sailitafa S. Samoa, RN, regarding emergency contraception. First of all emergency contraception (ECP) or the “morning after pill” is NOT an abortion pill. The abortion pill is not available in American Samoa, nor is it offered at the Family Planning Clinic. The Family Planning Clinic is federally funded by Title X , HHS, Office of Family Planning and the Office of Population Affairs, and  federal funds are not allowed to be used for termination of pregnancy or abortion.

Pregnancy does not happen right after sex. It takes 6 days for the egg and the sperm to meet after having sex. Emergency contraception works by delaying the release of the egg longer than usual. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with the sperm. That is why the emergency pill has to be taken within 5 days of sexual intercourse to delay the release of the egg. It will not work if the person is already pregnant.  

When someone comes to the Family Planning Clinic for emergency contraception, it is explained to them how the emergency contraception works, how it will not work if they are already pregnant, and the side effects. Then the client makes up her own mind whether to take the emergency contraception or not. This is called informed consent, and no one is given anything at the Family Planning Clinic without informed consent.

Saili stated in her letter that “If there was a life before swallowing the emergency contraception pill (ECP), the life would be terminated after taking the ECP.”  This is an opinion that has no scientific basis and completely erroneous. Emergency contraception DOES NOT CAUSE TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY AND DOES NOT WORK IF YOU ARE ALREADY PREGNANT.

Emergency contraception, also known as Plan B,  is available over-the-counter in the United States for people over 17 years of age, and a prescription is needed if under 17 years of age.

The “abortion pill” that can terminate pregnancy is called Mefipristone and is only available by prescription. It is also available at most Planned Parenthood Centers in the United States. Mefipristone is not carried by the Family Planning Clinic, nor is it available at the LBJ Pharmacy, as abortion, or termination of pregnancy is illegal in American Samoa.

For more information please visit the Family Planning Clinic where pamphlets on emergency contraception with evidence based facts are available or call 633-1222, ext 324 for more information.

Marilyn Pavitt-Anesi, RN, CNM, WHNP-BC, MICN
Program Director, Family Planning Program.