Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Study Shows Emergency Contraception Reduces Unwanted Pregnancy

An Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) study released today revealed that emergency contraception (EC) was responsible for reducing unwanted pregnancies and lowering the number of abortions in the US by as many as 51,000 in the year 2000. The report also showed an 11 percent decline in overall abortion rates in the US between 1994 and 2000; increased use of EC may be responsible for up to 43 percent of that decline. Emergency contraception is a concentrated dose of birth control hormones that is up to 95% effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, contraception failure, or rape. EC could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions by 800,000 in the United States alone, according to a 1998 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported the Associated Press.

Despite this drug's incredible potential to advance women's reproductive health care, 9 out of 10 women of reproductive age do not know about emergency contraception, and only 1 out of 5 physicians regularly discuss it with their patients, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. So-called "conscience clauses" permit doctors and pharmacists to refuse to prescribe or dispense emergency contraception, further restricting women's access to this important drug. A survey of all 597 Catholic hospital emergency rooms in the US, released by Catholics for a Free Choice on Dec. 12, found only 5 percent of Catholic emergency rooms provide EC upon request, and an additional 23 percent provide EC only to rape victims.

According to AP, women in certain states can obtain EC prescriptions online without having to visit a doctor or nurse practitioner; for example, Planned Parenthood's Columbia/Willamette chapter just opened an online EC prescription service in Oregon. The Feminist Majority Foundation's Emergency Contraception Over the Counter (EC OTC) campaign is petitioning the FDA to allow women to access EC over the counter without a prescription so that EC can be easily and quickly accessible to all women in the United States. EC is already available over the counter in California, Washington, and Alaska. "Requiring a visit to the doctor for a medication that is safer than aspirin or Tylenol makes no sense. 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," stated Dr. Anita L. Nelson of the UCLA School of Medicine to WebMD Medical News.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the EC OTC Petition and Get Involved

Media Resources: AGI report November/December 2002; WebMD Medical News 9/11/02; PPFA 12/17/02; AGI 12/17/02; Catholics for a Free Choice 12/12/02; AP 12/17/02; USA Today 12/16/02; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 12/17/02; Feminist Daily News Wire

© 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

10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case. UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall. The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies. Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .