In keeping with my promise to keep you informed of issues in the U.S. Congress, I wanted to bring to your attention legislation that was recently introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Congresswoman Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) that will raise the public’s understanding and awareness of Emergency Contraception (EC).
The bill is called the “EC Education Act” and it would fund public-education campaigns about this medication, letting people know that it is available, safe, and effective at preventing pregnancy. The bill would allow states to fund outreach programs to doctors, pharmacists, and women to increase their awareness about EC. This effort comes at a good time because some studies indicated that many women do not use EC because they underestimate their chances of becoming pregnant. Improving public education and awareness could help reduce the estimated three million unintended pregnancies that occur in the U.S. every year. In the U.S., emergency contraception is now available over the counter for adults and by prescription for those under age 17.
Of course, we expect the radical anti-abortion groups to come out in opposition to these bills. As they have always done, they will try to confuse the public about EC by comparing it to abortion.
So, what can you do today to help this bill become law?
If your Senators and Congressman are pro-choice (contact me if you’re not sure), send them a simple email asking them to “cosponsor this legislation.” After a bill is introduced, it – along with thousands of other bills – is referred to a committee. That committee will not consider the bill unless they have an idea that there is support for it. So, a Member of Congress can indicate that support by “co-sponsoring” the bill.
If your Senators and Congress are anti-abortion, tell them they should support the bill because Emergency Contraception is one way to prevent abortions! And don’t let them tell you that 72 hours after unprotected sex, there is a “baby” in the woman’s uterus. Gimme a break!