No Plan B Without ID

In the U.S., Plan B emergency contraception is available over-the-counter only for women 17 and older. This is in no small part due to America’s long-standing, confused, Puritan relationship with sexuality. Sill, that means Plan B is available to all adult women, right?

Wrong. Oh, certainly, if you’re 17 or older, you can buy Plan B. But only if you can find someone to sell it to you. If you don’t happen to have your ID handy, you could be out of luck, even if you’re 28 years older than you have to be to purchase it.

Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN, writes of her own experience trying to buy Plan B at a local Rite-Aid:

In a fit of doing the right thing for the youth of America we found ourselves at Rite Aid stocking up on condoms, lube (because that’s what the CDC recommends to use with condoms to reduce the risk of breakage, also not taught in sex ed!), and Plan B, a veritable safe sex kit for the hallway closet beside the extra toothbrushes and toilet paper. My boyfriend and I were giggling a little, shouting things like, “Got the magnum sized condoms, honey.” And, “Does that lube we like come in a gallon size?”

When it was our turn at the pharmacy window we headed up, laden with the goodies, and I asked, “Plan B, the generic please.”

“I need to see your ID.”

Well, we’d just come form the gym and I wasn’t driving so I had cash and a credit card, but no ID. And while I like to think that I look younger than my stated age, there is no way in hell I look like a 16 year old, you know what I mean?

I made my case. All 45 years.

Didn’t matter, no ID no Plan B.

Of course, an ID is not a legal requirement for the sale of Plan B, but because the item has an age restriction, stores will card for it. Some stores will put difficult or draconian rules into effect in order to protect themselves from liability, but these rules also make it difficult for younger women to get emergency contraception after a failure to use contraception, a failure of contraceptive methods, or a sexual assault.

For Dr. Gunter, it wasn’t an emergency; she was buying the pill for an “emergency kit,” not for her on personal use. For a woman facing the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, however, any delay could be critical.

As Robin Marty of RH Reality Check writes, “The lack of an ID isn’t just an issue for those who simply forgot to bring one along. For many women who are poor and don’t own cars, a legal ID card may not be something they have, because of the cost and the lack of necessity.”

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Image Credit: NNECAPA


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

it isn't discrimination. it's a drug that if over taken could damage. you need an id to buy many drugs and controlled substances. carry you license. did you drive to the store? then you should have your id anyway. stop being so touchy and follow the rule! (which is a very basic simple rule)

Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

That is so ridiculous.

Prentise W.
pre,tpse w5 years ago

Where I live, stores are required to see IDs for anyone who buys alcohol or nicotine, even if they are obviously much older than the minimum age requirement.

Cristina Calloni
Cristins Calloni5 years ago

Sound denai to a woman over 17 years old because she forgot her ID...but some time rules are dif. state o companies.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

If you are in this country legally you would have some form of ID and you should have it with you at all times. What's the big deal? If you drive you have an ID and keep it on you.

Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago

hmm how about you just carry your ID with you at all times? if you grabbed your credit card and cash then why not grab your ID too, just incase? I carry mine with me at all times.
I think it's a good thing that they card for it.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

this is discriminatory

cecily w.
cecily w5 years ago

WARNING: This is an exercise in situational ethics. I'm one of "those people" who thinks it's fine to require state issued photo IDs for lots of things. BUT pregnancy prevention is not one of them.

U.S. population growth is so high, and it exacerbates so many of our other problems, that preventing pregnancy should attain the status of being a public health emergency

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Very good article.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers5 years ago

There should be no age restriction on plan b. In fact the younger you are is the more you will need it. Sell anyone it that needs it! This is the most ridiculous age restriction ever! It's not going to encourage sex if you allow children to buy it, children don't need any encouragement! But they are totally irresponsible and need plan b, one of the greatest inventions ever!