NH Bill to Allow Access to EC Directly From Pharmacists
Last Wednesday, the New Hampshire House passed a bill that would allow women to purchase emergency contraception directly from pharmacists without a prescription. The Nashua Telegraph reports that neither the state House nor the Senate, which passed the bill in March, had enough votes to overcome a veto by Governor Craig Benson who has yet to decide if he will sign the bill. Six states, including Washington, Maine, and New York, have passed similar laws on emergency contraception.
Supporters argue that offering emergency contraception (EC) directly through pharmacists is a safe and cost-effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions, the Manchester Union Leader reports. Women who have unprotected sex, contraception failure, or are raped need quick access to EC because it is only useful in preventing pregnancy for up to 72 hours. It is safer than aspirin, meets all of the FDA's requirements for over the counter status, and is up to 95% effective if used within the first 24 hours. EC has the potential to prevent 800,000 abortions in the United States annually.
Some opponents argued that the bill wasn't necessary because they expected the FDA to approve over-the-counter status for the emergency contraception Plan B, the Nashua Telegraph reports. The next day after the state House vote, the FDA succumbed to political pressure by anti-abortion forces and rejected Barr Laboratories' petition for over-the-counter status for Plan B. This decision flies in the face of the FDA's own expert advisory committees, which recommended 23-4 to approve over-the-counter status for Plan B.