Tuesday Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced they have introduced the Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014. The legislation would require any hospital receiving federal funding under Medicare or Medicaid to provide survivors of sexual assault with accurate and unbiased information about emergency contraception (EC) and promptly provide EC if the patient so requests it. In addition, hospitals must provide these services to survivors of sexual assault regardless of their ability to pay.
“Emergency contraception is a safe, responsible and effective means of preventing unintended pregnancies – a goal we all should share,” said Murray. “Unfortunately, in spite of its increased availability, emergency contraception remains an underused prevention method in the United States, especially for survivors of sexual assault. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with my colleagues who understand the importance of educating both provider and patient on this critical element of a woman’s health care.”
“Sexual assault survivors deserve access to a full range of quality health care, and that includes emergency contraception,” said Boxer. “This bill will ensure that emergency rooms provide women with accurate information about their options and timely medical care when they need it most.”
“Survivors of sexual assault have a right to all support, services, and treatments that they need in order to avoid additional suffering following an assault,” said Blumenthal. “The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act guarantees that women will receive medical care that is appropriate after a sexual assault – a requirement that has been in place in Connecticut for more than seven years. It is time for the rest of the country to follow Connecticut’s lead and ensure that women everywhere have the same protections and secure, safe access to contraception.”
“We must protect women’s access to reproductive health services, especially to emergency contraception, which is currently being denied to some women at the point of care – even when they are victims of sexual assault,” said Warren. “This bill is a significant step that will give doctors the tools they need to provide women with more information and critical care.”
“No woman should be forced to endure the trauma of sexual assault and the potential unintended outcomes without knowing all of the options available to her,” said Booker. “I am pleased to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that ensures victims are not only treated compassionately but also given timely, unhindered access to emergency contraception.”
“The sometimes tragic circumstances that make access to contraception an emergency affect more than a woman’s reproductive health—they affect every aspect of her well-being,” said National Women’s Law Center Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger. “The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act will ensure that women get the information, counseling, and access to emergency contraception they need to make informed decisions about their health during a difficult time. That could be during a visit with their ob-gyn or in the emergency room following a sexual assault. Emergency contraception is a necessary component of health care. This legislation will make sure it is widely available and provided with information and compassion.”
“This bill is so important because it will help to ensure that women have timely access to emergency contraception when and where they need it,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue. “I look forward to those members of Congress who claim to oppose abortion to join Senator Murray in supporting this bill, since EC has the potential to prevent unintended pregnancy and, therefore, reduce the need for abortion.”
“We applaud Senator Murray’s steadfast commitment to ensuring that women have access to the full range of birth control methods, including Emergency Contraception. It is unacceptable that a survivor of rape or incest can be denied access to emergency contraception in the emergency room, and therefore forced to carry a pregnancy caused by her attacker,” said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards. “Decisions about emergency contraception, like all forms of birth control, should be between a woman and her doctor, not her pharmacist, her boss, or her Congressman.”
The Emergency Contraception Education Act of 2014 would also direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and disseminate information on emergency contraception to the public, pharmacists and health care providers.
Read a one page legislative summary here.