1. Health
Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC

Support the Emergency Contraception Education Act!

By September 21, 2007

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Last month, Rep. Louise Slaughter introduced the Emergency Contraception Education Act of 2007 to the House of Representatives; at that time, 67 other pro-family planning lawmakers co-sponsored this Act. Currently, the Act has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Emergency Contraception Education Act (H.R. 3372) would provide for a large-scale education campaign with the objective to successfully inform women and health care providers about emergency contraception (EC). Specifically, this bill will direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:

  • Develop and disseminate information about EC to health-care providers (including recommendations on the use of EC)
  • Create and publicize information on EC to the American public.
The rationale behind this Act includes the fact that 3 million women are faced with unintended pregnancy in the US each year and about half of these end in abortion. Experts predict that wider access to EC could prevent 1.7 million unwanted pregnancies, which would dramatically reduce the number of abortions in this country. In fact, use of emergency contraception accounted for up to 43% percent of the total decline in abortion rates between 1994 and 2000.

Emergency contraception is a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy, has no potential for overdose or addiction, and does not harm an existing pregnancy. Because there is a narrow time frame for its effective use, timely access to EC is critical. Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have supported more widespread availability of EC, but many people, pharmacists, and health-care providers are not fully aware about this critical contraception option:

  • 9 out of every 10 US women of reproductive age remain unaware of this method
  • 1 out of every 4 obstetricians/gynecologists in the U.S. routinely discuss EC with their patients
  • Less than 18% of hospitals dispense emergency contraception at a woman's request without restrictions
  • Roughly 50% of hospitals do not provide EC to a woman who has been sexually assaulted (even though it is often the only contraceptive option for the 300,000 women who are raped each year)
Last year, the FDA approved over-the-counter access to the emergency contraceptive Plan B for adults. The Emergency Contraception Education Act is a pro-prevention measure that politicians (and people) on both sides of the abortion debate can, and SHOULD, support. This Act is critical because it will raise awareness of the option of EC, which can empower women to make informed decisions concerning their reproductive health; more importantly, it can dramatically prevent unintended pregnancies, thus the need for abortion would significantly decrease.

If you want to get involved: contact your local State Representative and urge him/her to support the Emergency Contraception Education Act of 2007 (H.R. 3372). You can:

    Call: The Capitol Switchboard (toll-free at 1-888-508-2974) and ask for your official’s office

    Email: find out your Representative’s website

    Fax: contact your official’s office (through phone, email or website) and request the fax number

    Write:
    The Honorable ____________
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, DC 20515
    (Note: For security reasons, mail service to congressional offices is often delayed)

  • The Emergency Contraception Debate
  • Take My Emergency Contraception Quiz

Emergency Contraception Photo © 2007 Dawn Stacey licensed to About.com, Inc

Comments
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