Last week, the Hawaii House passed legislation that would enable women over the age of 18 to obtain emergency contraception (EC) from their pharmacists without a prescription. The bill faced opposition from anti-choice state representatives as well as the state Board of Pharmacy. Executive Director of the Board, Lee Ann Teshima, noted that the legislation, which requires pharmacists to complete a training program on emergency contraception, may unintentionally prevent some pharmacists from providing EC “even if a doctor issues a prescription.” Also at issue is the bill’s exclusion of minors. The Hawaii House Health Committee added an amendment to the bill that would prohibit young women under 18 from obtaining EC without a prescription. According to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports, supporters of the bill have called for the removal of the amendment because “current state law allows minors to have access to medical care regarding venereal diseases, pregnancy and family planning services.” Young women are also the most at risk for unintended pregnancy and therefore most in need of EC. Four of every five pregnancies experienced by teenagers are unintended.
The Hawaii Senate will now consider the legislation. Also pending in the Senate is legislation that would require hospitals and clinics to offer EC to victims of sexual assault.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a nationwide campaign to make EC available over-the-counter and to mainstream access to EC on college campuses. To learn more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.