SD: Committee Rejects Requiring Emergency Contraception for Rape Victims

The South Dakota House Health Committee on Monday rejected 11-1 a proposal to require hospitals to offer rape survivors emergency contraception. “Little else can compound the already immense trauma of rape than facing the possibility of bearing the rapist’s child,” testified Shirley Adelstein, the granddaughter of the prime sponsor of the bill, according to the Associated Press. Opponents of the bill claimed that it would require religious hospitals to provide medical treatment that goes against their “moral” beliefs.

Meanwhile, the New York State Assembly on Monday passed a bill allowing emergency contraception (EC) to be distributed without a prescription. The Democratic-controlled Assembly was able to pass this measure last year as well, only to see it blocked by the Republican-controlled State Senate.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to allow Plan B, a brand of emergency contraception, to be sold over the counter nationwide. If the FDA allows the labeling change, permitting over-the-counter sale, the New York bill will be moot. The FDA decision is expected February 20. While two expert advisory panels convened in December 2003 and unequivocally recommended over-the-counter sale without restrictions in a 23-4 vote, the FDA is receiving intense and mounting pressure from anti-reproductive rights legislators on Capitol Hill to prevent restriction-free over-the-counter sale of EC.

“In concert with the medical and public health organizations, we must take action and voice our position again and again and again to the FDA before anti-reproductive rights activists take this breakthrough drug away from responsible women seeking to avoid unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Beth Jordan, Medical Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

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New York Times 2/3/04; Ottaway News Service 2/3/04; Associated Press 2/2/04; Feminist Majority Foundation

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