SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, medical doctors witnessed an interesting phenomenon.
Their patients went to their local pharmacies to stock up on emergency contraception, known as "Plan B" and the stores began to ration the kits.
Plan B is the morning-after pill that prevents pregnancy in an emergency if there is a contraception failure. It's not a medication used by pregnant women to result in an abortion.
So why are women rushing to buy multiple kits in California where abortion remains legal?
Dr. Toni Brayer, an internal medicine specialist and former chief of staff at California Pacific Medical Center, suggests a possible answer: fear that federal lawmakers may enact a national abortion ban.
"Women are very resourceful and, when they feel their rights are being infringed upon, they're going to take matters into their own hands and make sure that they're protecting themselves and that they are taking care of their own health," Dr. Brayer explained.
The Plan B surge ended quickly and pharmacies told KPIX that demand has returned to normal. What's not normal is the influx of women from outside the state seeking abortions.
"We are booking out almost 7 to 10 days for people seeking abortion care in California," said Dr. Pratima Gupta, an abortion provider in Southern California.
Dr. Gupta says other clinics around the state are seeing new and similar wait times. Clinics have extended their hours and their days of service. In addition, trainees from states that have banned abortions are now in California and have received temporary medical licenses. These trainees are helping out with the surge in additional patients and they're learning how to perform abortions.
"They can get training in how to provide abortion care so we can increase access in other places, " Dr. Gupta said.
Studies show more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
Dr. Brayer said young women should not get their reproductive health information from TikTok videos or other social media platforms. She and her colleagues have spotted some posts that are full of misinformation or are downright dangerous. She urged young people to turn to more reputable sources.
"I think now, more than ever, it's important for women to understand the reproductive cycle, to have education about what is available for them. Certainly, there may be women who don't know about Plan B and it's very simple and safe and they should have that information."
Dr. Brayer also suggests that women use old-fashion paper calendars to track their cycles -- especially if they are concerned about being digitally tracked.
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