This week marks the one year anniversary of the FDA’s decision to approve emergency contraception for use over the counter. Check out NARAL Pro-Choice America’s blog, Bush v. Choice, for more reflections on the anniversary, including mine, here.
Archive for the ‘Emergency Contraception’ Category
At the National Latina Institute, we work to ensure that access to abortion remains a major component of the reproductive justice movement.
We also realize that not all will agree with abortion. This is true for all the Republican presidential candidates, for the exception of Rudolph Giuliani who holds pro-choice views. So far, the primarily questions around reproductive health and rights has been “are you pro-choice or pro-life” and “will you try to overturn Roe V. Wade”? Automatically, the answers will tend to be “pro-life” and “yes,” respectively. But, what about other reproductive health and rights issues?
In this August 17th commentary at Newsweek.com, Eleanor Clift suggests that reporters and debate moderators should stop asking candidates about their views on abortion, and start asking questions about family planning. Since the candidates are targeting specific voters, their statements on abortion are unlikely to change.
However, what will happen if people start asking specific questions, such as “do you think it’s OK for a pharmacy to refuse to fill a woman’s prescription for birth-control pills based on the personal views of the pharmacist? Should hospital emergency rooms be allowed to withhold information from a rape victim about the morning-after pill, which can prevent a pregnancy if it’s taken soon enough after the assault? Do you support age-appropriate sex education[…]?” Questions like these can lead to more than just a “yes or no” answer and more genuine responses as to their position on women’s right to bodily autonomy and reproductive choice.
The American Medical Association voted to adopt a new policy requesting that pharmacies use their website or other means to let patients know if they stock and dispense emergency contraception and whether or not a prescription is required. If a pharmacy doesn’t dispense emergency contraception, pharmacies should indicate where emergency contraception can be obtained in their region.
“FDA-approved Plan B emergency contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said AMA Board Member Rebecca J. Patchin, M.D. “Even if women are aware of emergency contraception as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancy, they may not know where or how to access it. It’s important that pharmacies let patients know whether they can access emergency contraception at their store and, if not, where they can go to get it.”
This is an important push from the AMA that will help women cross the barriers which exist for accessing EC in the current hostile environment.
According to a survey conducted by NARAL to document the availability of emergency contraception (also known as EC, the morning after pill or Plan B) in North Carolina, about 40 percent of North Carolina pharmacies do not carry the “morning after pill.” 11% of the roughly 600 pharmacies NARAL surveyed earlier this year said they would require a prescription for all women seeking EC. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they were unaware the drug was effective for up to 72 hours after sex. Quoted prices for EC ranged from $20 to $500.
The group attributed the pill’s unavailability to confusion and moral opposition among pharmacists, and said the numbers are a cause for concern because Plan B can help prevent unintended pregnancies for women who have been sexually assaulted.
“Our survey found that a lot of the pharmacists had a lot of misinformation,” said Amy Woodell, a statewide organizer for the group, adding that it plans to use the results to educate pharmacists and the public. “I think it was surprising.”
For more information about access to EC, check out our EC FAQ!
Good news: The Pennsylvania state House Health and Human Services Committee gave a big win to advocates for crime victims and women’s rights last week, approving 20-7 a bill that would require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to women seeking treatment for sexual assault.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, was drafted in part in response to a 2006 rape case in Lebanon County. The victim sought treatment at Good Samaritan Hospital, but was refused emergency contraception by an emergency room doctor who said it would violate his religious beliefs about abortion.
Leach’s bill would require hospitals to provide rape victims with information about emergency contraception and, if requested, make available the two-pill treatment that’s most effective when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.
Similar bills have been considered and passed in other states, even though the Democratic leadership in the Congress has shied away from the issue.
via The Patriot News.
One step forward: AM New York reports the findings of a recent survey conducted by the New York City Council of 155 pharmacies on the availability of EC, also known as Plan B. The survey showed that 94% of pharmacies were aware that the drug could be legally sold over the counter and had it available. The study also showed that the average cost was $41.84, slightly higher than when sold only by prescription prior to August 2006.
The study revealed that allowing pharmacies to sell emergency contraception over the counter rather than by prescription has dramatically boosted its availability and created an “undeniable success” in helping reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions that may result.
However, much work still needs to be done in regards to ensuring that city-run and non-profit clinics have it available free or at reduced cost to low-income and undocumented women, including those younger than 18 and those without the necessary government issued ID.