As debate continued on the floor of the US Senate today over unconstitutional legislation that would ban so-called “partial birth” abortions, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced an amendment that would provide $10 million over the next five years to improve awareness about emergency contraception (EC), make EC available to rape victims in every emergency room across the country and require insurance companies to cover contraceptives.
“If we are going to jeopardize women’s health by banning certain health procedures, we must protect women’s health by covering contraceptives,” Murray argued on the floor this morning. “Women who have been raped should be informed of all their options,” Reid added. “EC has been studied extensively and is regarded as a safe and effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”
EC is a concentrated dose of birth control hormones that is up to 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, contraception failure, or rape. EC could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions by 800,000 in the United States alone, according to a 1998 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Despite this drug’s incredible potential to advance women’s reproductive health care, 9 out of 10 women of reproductive age do not know about emergency contraception and only 1 out of 5 physicians regularly discuss it with their patients, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Women’s Capital Corporation – which distributes Plan-B, a brand of EC – is planning to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make EC available over the counter. The Feminist Majority Foundation is submitting petitions in support of this important initiative to expand and protect women’s reproductive rights.
TAKE ACTION Demand Emergency Contraception Over-the-Counter