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House Bill to Undermine Access to EC

Congresswoman Melissa Hart (R-PA) introduced legislation this week in the U.S. House that would block federal funding for elementary or secondary schools that provide access to emergency contraception (EC). The deceptively named Schoolchildren’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3805, would undermine the right of teenagers to obtain EC pills, which have the potential, according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports, to prevent almost one-half of the 3 million unintended pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Four of every five pregnancies experienced by teenagers are unintended. EC also decreases the need for abortion and has the potential to prevent 800,000 abortions in the U.S. annually, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The Schoolchildren’s Health Protection Act has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

While EC has been found to be extremely safe, and the American Medical Association has advocated to make them available over-the-counter, anti-choice members of Congress are considering ways to make the pills less accessible to young women in need. The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a nationwide campaign to increase access to emergency contraception by making the pills available both at campus health centers and over-the-counter. To find out more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.

Sources:

H.R. 3805, 2/27/02; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports, 2/12/02; Alan Guttmacher Institute; Feminist Majority Foundation