Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Doctors Call For Over-the-Counter Access to Emergency Contraception

As the United States continues to experience one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the developed world, support for emergency contraception (EC) is increasing, backed by several studies and prominent doctors. EC prevents pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Groups such as the Feminist Majority Foundation are campaigning to win Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception, which could prevent almost half of the country’s three million unintended pregnancies each year, as well as 800,000 abortions, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Dr. David Grimes of Family Health International released an article in The New England Journal of Medicine yesterday urging the FDA to allow over-the-counter EC, as many other countries, including Great Britain, France, and South Africa, have already done.

Another study has indicated that healthcare providers are not effectively communicating to their patients the potential for EC to prevent unintended pregnancies. Of the women surveyed, 73 percent were unaware of EC, and nearly two-third of those women later became pregnant in a situation where EC could have been used, according to United Press International. Dr. Anita L. Nelson of the UCLA School of Medicine told WebMD Medical News that she makes it a point to talk to her patients about EC, and offers them prescriptions for EC to keep in their medicine cabinets in case of emergencies. She supports offering EC over-the-counter. "Requiring a visit to a doctor for a medication that is safer than aspirin or Tylenol makes no sense," said Dr. Nelson. "Women have to be aware that this is out there and they have to get it in their medicine cabinets, just like bandages, before they need it," according to WebMD Medical News.

California has taken a step toward increasing women’s access to EC. Last week, Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill mandating hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide EC to victims of sexual assault – making California one of the first states to do so. Under the new law, women who cannot afford the drug will receive it for free. More than 8,000 women report they are raped each year in California, according to the state Department of Justice. The Office of Population Research at Princeton University reports that women are not routinely offered EC after being sexually assaulted, and that of the 25,000 pregnancies that resulted in 1998 from rape, as many as 22,000 could have been prevented by offering women EC, according to the Associated Press.

TAKE ACTION: Send a petition to the FDA to support approval for over-the-counter emergency contraception.

Media Resources: Associated Press 9/6/02; WebMD Medical News 9/11/02; United Press International 9/12/02

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately. The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state. Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations. More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .
10/28/2014 Ohio Officials Threaten to Close Cincinnati's Last Remaining Abortion Clinic - Ohio's TRAP law may soon force the last remaining abortion clinic in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area to close, leaving an estimated 2.1 million people without access to a comprehensive reproductive healthcare site. Planned Parenthood's Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center received a notice earlier this week from state health officials threatening to shut down the facility for failure to obtain a transfer agreement with a local private hospital. Last year, Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) signed into law a requirement that abortion clinics obtain a written agreement with a local hospital willing to take patients from the clinic in an emergency, despite the fact that emergencies are extremely rare and hospital emergency rooms must already accept patients. . . .