Bills in the New York State Assembly and the New York City Council would expand women’s access to emergency contraception (EC). Three bills passed late last month by the City Council, currently under review by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would require hospitals with city contracts to offer EC to rape victims, would make EC available at STI clinics, and would require pharmacies that do not carry EC to post signs to that effect. A bill under consideration in the Assembly would allow pharmacies to dispense EC using non-patient-specific prescriptions from doctors, midwives, and nurse practitioners.
The emergency contraception pill, also known as the “morning after pill,” works for 72 hours after unprotected sex, failed contraception, or rape to prevent pregnancy. EC is safer than aspirin, and if used in the first 24 hours it is 95 percent effective. New York City Council Speaker noted that “added costs [from the legislation] would be offset by savings from fewer abortion and pregnancies,” according to the New York Post. EC has the potential to prevent half of the unintended pregnancies and 800,000 of the abortions that take place in the United States each year.
The Feminist Majority Foundation and other women’s health groups are working to make EC available over the counter so women can access this pill quickly and easily all over the United States. Women’s Capitol Corporation, the makers of Plan B, the progestin-based form of EC, will be submitting paperwork in April to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting that Plan B be made available over the counter. The Feminist Majority Foundation is collecting petitions from all over the country advocating for EC over the counter.