NH Bill to Allow Access to EC Directly From Pharmacists
Last Wednesday, the New Hampshire House passed a bill that would allow women to purchase emergency contraception directly from pharmacists without a prescription. The Nashua Telegraph reports that neither the state House nor the Senate, which passed the bill in March, had enough votes to overcome a veto by Governor Craig Benson who has yet to decide if he will sign the bill. Six states, including Washington, Maine, and New York, have passed similar laws on emergency contraception.
Supporters argue that offering emergency contraception (EC) directly through pharmacists is a safe and cost-effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions, the Manchester Union Leader reports. Women who have unprotected sex, contraception failure, or are raped need quick access to EC because it is only useful in preventing pregnancy for up to 72 hours. It is safer than aspirin, meets all of the FDA's requirements for over the counter status, and is up to 95% effective if used within the first 24 hours. EC has the potential to prevent 800,000 abortions in the United States annually.
Some opponents argued that the bill wasn't necessary because they expected the FDA to approve over-the-counter status for the emergency contraception Plan B, the Nashua Telegraph reports. The next day after the state House vote, the FDA succumbed to political pressure by anti-abortion forces and rejected Barr Laboratories' petition for over-the-counter status for Plan B. This decision flies in the face of the FDA's own expert advisory committees, which recommended 23-4 to approve over-the-counter status for Plan B.
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. . . .