Plan Bashful

by f

So here’s a story D found for me on the intarwebz while I enjoyed my wild Tuesday.

It astonishes me that Plan B use is so widespread in India. I know it shouldn’t, given the billion-plus sex drives. The cavalier attitude toward sex does bother me, but I can’t see that it is any of my business. Most worrisome is that these women seem to confuse the morning-after pill with normal contraceptive methods. (Overuse causes uterine infections and irregular periods.)

According to Ms. Rai, advertisements claim the pill is a safe alternative to abortions. I find this a reprehensible practice as it is misleading. This pill will only stop a pregnancy if the fertilized egg has not yet attached itself to the uterine wall. If it has, this pill can do nothing. It’s possible — though not probable — that the morning after pill will not work in some cases. So this doesn’t stop or even prevent abortions from needing to take place.

However irrational and sometimes downright dumb this Plan B frenzy might seem, I almost admire the boldness of the new Indian woman. Yes, she knows about plan B. And, most tellingly, she’ll ask for it.

*

Confession: I’ve taken plan B thrice. The second time I took it I realized I left my license home for the weekend and couldn’t prove my age — I didn’t know that W could buy the pill for me. I mean, he’s a dude. What if the pharmacist prevented him from getting it on my behalf, thinking it could go to a minor? I know … unsound logic, but I felt so awful that this made perfect sense at the time.

Petrified, I asked my close friend, H, to help me. She was a Marine who just completed a tour of duty in Iraq. She lived far upstate. But because we were such close friends, she dropped everything she was doing and took a train to NB. She bought me that pill.

I still remember how confident she looked in line, six foot three in heels with Marilyn hair and perfect nails. She asked, without any shame, for Plan B, and she even flirted with the pharmacist on the way out.

The first time I needed Plan B, I ran to the school pharmacy in a woolen coat and baseball cap. It was a cold winter afternoon. I encountered no line. Forty bucks and a great deal of stammering later, and the pill was mine. H made the process look painless — easy — without shame. When she clicked down the aisle in her heels, holding the bag against her shiny nails I thought — no, I felt — that I could so do that. You know, the whole buying contraceptives in public without feeling like I’d sink through the floor thing.

Easier said than done. Even among my enlightened friends, Plan B wasn’t something we talked about. If we needed it, we got it, but nobody wanted to admit taking it. I mean — at least, intellectually — everybody knew it wasn’t an abortifacient. But still; a pill you could take after the event?

A little scarier.

A lot scarier.

Over lunch with H that day she tried to convince me I did the right thing. Many women, she assured me, had to take Plan B to stay sane about the chances of suddenly becoming a human incubator. I said I understood, but I don’t think I did. I don’t think I shook of the queasiness then. I’m not sure I have now.

That doesn’t matter, however. A year later, when I needed Plan B again, I knew what to do. I sent W — with two crisp twenties in hand — to the pharmacy.

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