Reproductive Rights
Quotes from an article in The Nation, July 14, 2003, p. 24
"Hawaii recently became the fifth state [Hawaii, Alaska, California, Washington, and New Mexico] to make emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill, available directly from pharmacists. This is far from a small regulatory change. It means that next time it's 2 o'clock on a Friday night and the condom breaks, a woman there won't have to wait until the following Monday to find a doctor to write a prescription and then wait to get the prescription filled. She can go directly to her neighborhood pharmacist.

"When taken within days after unprotected sex, emergency contraception--higher doses of birth control pills--can dramatically reduce the risk of pregnancy. But the pills should be used within seventy-two hours, and the sooner the better...

"Studies show that most sexually active women use contraception, but no method is foolproof. Emergency contraception has the potential to tranform women's lives by giving them a second chance to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The pharmacy-access model has proven so successful in Washington and California legislators in fourteen more states are now trying to replicate the program...

"Experts estimate that emergency contraception averted 51,000 abortions in 2000 alone and that wider use of it in the United States could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by almost half...

"The reluctance of pharmaceutical companies to embrace innovative products that could change women's lives is not limited to emergency contraception. Women make up an increasing majority of those who are HIV-infected. But twenty-two years into the epidemic, most women still must rely on men to use a condom or abstain from having sex to protect themselves. No major drug company is developing a product women can use on their own [HIV microbicides--gels, creams or suppositories that women can apply without men ever having to know]... And the government, currently obsessed with abstinence, is not doing what it should to subsidize this R&D either.

"Such political and commercial squeamishness is not only unwarranted, it endangers women's health... Worldwide, nearly 5,000 women a day become infected with HIV."


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