Massachusetts May Soon Have Pharmacy Access to Emergency Contraception

This week, the Massachusetts House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved legislation to make emergency contraception available from pharmacists without prescriptions and to require hospitals to offer it to rape victims. Following a final procedural vote in the Senate, expected next week, the bill will move to the desk of Governor Mitt Romney (R).

Although Romney indicated support for emergency contraception during his 2002 campaign, he has not taken a position on this legislation, prompting speculation that he is attempting to move right on choice issues in advance of a possible presidential campaign, reports the Associated Press. Nonetheless, the bill seems likely to become law for Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) has expressed her support for the bill, and should it come up for approval during the Governor’s vacation would be able and willing to sign it into law, according to the MetroWest Daily News. Furthermore, the final version passed with the support of more than two-thirds of legislators, enough to override Romney’s possible veto.

A provision to allow individuals at religious hospitals to opt out of providing emergency contraception was removed from this final version. State Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) said, “The geography of a sexual assault or a rape should not determine whether a woman has access to emergency contraception,” reports MetroWest Daily News.

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Associated Press 7/14/05, 7/21/05; Boston Globe 7/21/05; MetroWest Daily News 7/22/05

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