Under legislation introduced by Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), emergency contraception (EC) would become available to all service members at all US military bases worldwide. The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act would add EC to the basic core formulary, a list of medications that are required to be stocked at all military health facilities. It would also enable military women without prior approval from their doctor to receive EC, according to the Air Force Times.
In a statement, Senator Franken said, "all servicewomen should have the same access to this medication as civilians do...The fact that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year in the military-a nine percent increase-only heightens the need to ensure emergency contraception is always available."
EC is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use. EC does not terminate an existing pregnancy.
According to Air America, this bill will most likely not be considered as a piece of freestanding legislation, but will instead be considered as an amendment to the defense authorization bill.
Media Resources: Senator Al Franken Statement 12/17/09; Air Force Times 1/12/10; Air America 1/11/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/2/09