Non-Prescription EC Passes Hawaii House Amid Controversy
Last week, the Hawaii House passed legislation that would enable women over the age of 18 to obtain emergency contraception (EC) from their pharmacists without a prescription. The bill faced opposition from anti-choice state representatives as well as the state Board of Pharmacy. Executive Director of the Board, Lee Ann Teshima, noted that the legislation, which requires pharmacists to complete a training program on emergency contraception, may unintentionally prevent some pharmacists from providing EC “even if a doctor issues a prescription.” Also at issue is the bill’s exclusion of minors. The Hawaii House Health Committee added an amendment to the bill that would prohibit young women under 18 from obtaining EC without a prescription. According to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports, supporters of the bill have called for the removal of the amendment because “current state law allows minors to have access to medical care regarding venereal diseases, pregnancy and family planning services.” Young women are also the most at risk for unintended pregnancy and therefore most in need of EC. Four of every five pregnancies experienced by teenagers are unintended.
The Hawaii Senate will now consider the legislation. Also pending in the Senate is legislation that would require hospitals and clinics to offer EC to victims of sexual assault.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a nationwide campaign to make EC available over-the-counter and to mainstream access to EC on college campuses. To learn more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.
Media Resources: Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/18/02; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 3/14/02; Hawaii House of Representatives, HB 2806, Draft 2; Feminist Majority Foundation
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .