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.
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. . . .