Patty Murray is introducing legislation to provide increased access to and education about emergency contraception.
When women are not given full counseling about — and access to — emergency contraception, a major health decision is taken out of their hands. Every year, over three million pregnancies (one half of all pregnancies in the United States) are unintended. In the 1960s, researchers began testing the effectiveness of concentrated, high doses of oral estrogen to prevent unintended pregnancy. In 1973, putting science and medical evidence first, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this form of contraception only as an emergency measure. In the time since (and not without significant resistance from critics), the FDA has declared emergency contraception, a.k.a. the morning-after pill, to be safe and effective in preventing unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or sexual assault. In addition, the FDA has approved the sale of some forms of this pill to women of all ages — over the counter, without prescription.
However, despite this increased access — and the number of options now available to women — emergency contraceptive use in the United States remains low. In fact, only half of OB/GYNs offer emergency contraception to all of their patients, and one third of reproductive-age women don’t know it exists.
Well, that’s a problem. I mean fortunately this is such a no-brainer that I’m sure it will sail right through our responsive democratic process. Surely, right. Right?