New York joined California, Washington and New Mexico yesterday, becoming the fourth state to mandate that hospitals offer rape victims emergency contraception (EC). “This is a tremendous victory for the women of New York state,” bill sponsor Assemblywoman Susan John (D-Rochester) told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Facing pressure from the state Catholic Conference earlier this year, the measure contained amended language, granting hospitals permission to withhold EC from women who were already pregnant, New York Daily News reported.
EC is 95% effective in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, failed contraception, or rape to prevent pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization, or implantation. Despite the time sensitive nature and documented benefits of EC, 54 percent of NY emergency rooms did not routinely provide EC to sexual assault survivors.
The Feminist Majority Foundation, along with a host of other reproductive health and rights groups, including American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association (AMA), are advocating for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of over-the-counter status for EC so women can access this pill quickly and easily all over the United States. The Women’s Capital Corporation, makers of Plan B, has submitted a request to the FDA for over-the-counter status and FMF is gathering petition signatures in support of their application. The FDA is expected to make its decision by early 2004.