NEW YORK: Planned Parenthood launched a new national campaign this Wednesday by handing out free emergency contraception at sites across the country, hoping to increase awareness that the Plan B pill is now more readily available as a backup method of contraception.
The non-profit's new campaign comes on the heels of a decade-long effort pushing for the contraception to be made available over-the-counter. That campaign ended when the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill for OTC sales in August.
"This is just the first event of what will be a long, elaborate marketing campaign," said Elizabeth Toledo, VP of communications for Planned Parenthood. "We want to make sure people have is every chance possible to avoid an unintended pregnancy."
More than 350 Planned Parenthood health centers offered the give-away last Wednesday in 34 states.
"We wanted this campaign to be driven locally, so we worked nationally to make sure all of the affiliates had the information they needed. Then every affiliate developed their own strategy and their own media outreach," Toledo said.
The organizations will also be visiting college campuses around the country, as well as reaching out to the Spanish speaking community and to women who can't afford emergency contraception.
Initially, Toledo said, the organization will forgo a national ad campaign and give its centers the power to make local buys. She said the organization was depending heavily on local affiliates to run the campaign as they see fit.
In addition to reaching out to women to educate them on the availability and intended use of Plan B, the new education campaign will include outreach to pharmacies that have so far refused to sell the drug.
Toledo said the next event has yet to be announced, and it is too early to say what the budget of the extended campaign will be.