The kindness of strangers

The Emergency Kindness network sends emergency contraception to women in need.

Published October 25, 2006 4:58PM (EDT)

Getting access to emergency contraception -- always a time-sensitive task -- can be all too difficult for some women. (We're looking at you, Target, for letting pharmacists opt not to fill Plan B prescriptions.) Women who can't easily get E.C. often have to rely on generous friends willing to part with a few birth control pills, or even turn to Facebook, the social networking site that allegedly has several underground networks dedicated to helping provide Plan B to high school and college students.

Now, there's another alternative -- on Wednesday Feministing tipped us off to the cheerily named initiative Emergency Kindness, which launched on Oct. 21. Emergency Kindness makes E.C. available online so that every woman with Internet access can get the drug when she needs it.

It works like this: Users submit Plan B requests using Emergency Kindness' online form. The organization then alerts two of its "Janes" (members of a volunteer network that, sadly, brings to mind the pre-Roe era's community of underground abortion providers), who arrange to overnight or hand-deliver emergency contraception to the woman in need, free of charge. If asked, the Janes will disguise the E.C. to help keep the client's needs confidential. Emergency Kindness asks that clients disclose any other medications they're taking, and provides information on how Plan B works, but doesn't ask for clients' ages. The woman behind the network, who goes by "San Cai," personally screens each potential new Jane. (If you're interested in becoming a Jane, go here.) And we particularly love the manifesto promising a no-judgment, no-shame attitude for those seeking E.C.

It's not a perfect system, by any means, and we sure wish women didn't have to go underground for easy access to emergency contraception. But given the current circumstances, we're glad Emergency Kindness is out there.

This post has been corrected since it was originally published.

By Marisa Meltzer

Marisa Meltzer is a freelance writer in New York City. She is coauthor of "How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time," which comes out in April.

MORE FROM Marisa Meltzer

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Health Love And Sex