Maine on Monday became the sixth state allowing emergency contraception to be dispensed without a doctor’s prescription. In a ceremony on Back Up Your Birth Control Day, Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed into law a bill that he said “marks another milepost in the advancement of reproductive rights for women in Maine,” according to the Associated Press.
Baldacci said that allowing emergency contraception (EC) to be dispensed by pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription will reduce unintended pregnancies in Maine, which now stand at 45 percent of all pregnancies in the state.
“Regardless of the position my colleagues had on legal abortion, we all recognized the need to address the issue of unintended pregnancy and perhaps as a result change the future for these women,” said state Sen. Lynn Bromley (D-South Portland), co-sponsor of the bill, AP reports.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a request to make Plan B, a brand of EC, available over the counter. It announced last month that it would delay its decision on over-the-counter status, a move that many women’s health advocates view as politically motivated. Right-wing groups and members of Congress have been fighting the drive for over-the-counter EC. A group of 49 members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush urging him to intervene, claiming that making EC more accessible could lead to increased sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections among teenagers.