ACLU Promotes Awareness of Emergency Contraception on Third Annual "Back Up Your Birth Control Day"

March 22, 2004 12:00 am

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Statement of Louise Melling, Director ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project


NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union is proud to join a broad coalition of medical groups and women’s health advocates today, the third annual “”Back Up Your Birth Control Day,”” to raise awareness about Emergency Contraception (EC).

If taken within days of unprotected intercourse, EC, often referred to as “”the morning after pill,”” reduces the risk of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent. Researchers estimate that in 2000 alone, use of this back-up birth control option prevented more than 50,000 abortions.

In recent years, advocates across the country have been working to build awareness, change policy, and increase access to EC. ACLU affiliates and others, for example, have been surveying hospitals in their states to determine if local emergency departments routinely provide EC to rape survivors. This research shows that in many states fewer than 50 percent of hospitals do so. Fortunately, because of the efforts of women’s health advocates, the landscape is changing.

Four states – California, New Mexico, New York, and Washington – recently passed legislation to ensure that hospitals provide EC to rape survivors. And in other states, advocates are working to change hospital policy.

In addition, five states – Alaska, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington – currently have policies allowing women to obtain EC directly from their pharmacists. And this year, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel of experts overwhelmingly recommended that the FDA grant over-the-counter status to Plan B, a particular brand of EC, which would make this back-up contraceptive more readily accessible to more women when they need it. The FDA is expected to make a final decision on this issue later this spring.

From New York to New Mexico and from Pennsylvania to Washington, ACLU affiliates across the country are doing their part today to educate women about EC through action alerts, media outreach, and campus advertising and tabling.

This April 25th, we also have the unique opportunity to show our broad support for contraceptive access and reproductive rights at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC. True reproductive freedom means access to the full range of reproductive health services, including access to EC, affordable family planning, abortion, prenatal care, and childbearing assistance.

Sign-up today to march with the ACLU and thousands of other organizations as we protect the rights of all women to decide, free from government interference, whether or not to have a child.

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