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Major retailers limit emergency contraceptive sales after Supreme Court decision

KING-TV Seattle logo KING-TV Seattle 6/29/2022 Julie Calhoun

Emergency contraceptives are in high demand following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on abortion rights. Major retailers now are limiting how many a person can buy.

KING 5 did find Plan B on shelves at several Seattle-area pharmacies. Planned Parenthood of Washington said it has seen an increase in demand over the last few days.

CVS was the first to limit purchases, but said supplies are back up and that it no longer has to do that. Amazon, Rite Aid and Walmart also are capping purchases.

Moments after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, the demand for emergency contraception soared.

“I feel like Plan B is like the new toilet paper, from the pandemic, with people being worried about access,” said Dr. Lora Shahine, an OB-GYN.

Dr. Lora Shahine points to the website Three For Freedom -- started by a doctor in Portland -- where you can order medications like Plan B from any state.

“The first few weeks, she had maybe, 50 to 75 orders, kind of around that on average. On Friday, there were 60,000 people that came to the website and ordered medication,” said Dr. Shahine.

Dr. Jenny Arnold, a pharmacist and CEO of Washington Pharmacy Association, said pharmacies are constantly managing medication shortages.

“This is just another example of an uptick in demand that pharmacies are facing and so they're trying to make sure to manage it by limiting the amount of orders that people aren't hoarding to doses, but that everybody can get a dose that needs one,” said Dr. Arnold.

Dr. Arnold said access to these medications are vital.

“Emergency contraception works by delaying ovulation, and so it would not have an impact on a pregnancy. So while it gets conflated with abortion, it's actually pre-planning,” said Dr. Arnold.

Dr. Arnold said Ella, another form of emergency contraception, is not experiencing the same supply issues.

“Plan B and the generic versions of it aren't as effective in women who are over 175 pounds. Ella is also more effective in five days out from unprotected sex, unfortunately, it is prescription only,” said Dr. Arnold

While Washington is becoming a sanctuary for abortion rights, residents could still feel the impacts.

“Access to Washington residents could be limited. Even though I'm so happy to live in Washington state, I'm so happy to practice reproductive care in Washington state. I think we all have to pay attention,” said Dr. Shahine.

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