Senator Dilan Urges Passage Of Emergency Contraception Legislation To Prevent Unintended Pregnancies
State Senator Marin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) recently backed an effort by the Senate Minority Conference to force a vote on a measure that would have allowed pharmacists and registered nurses to dispense emergency contraception without requiring a doctor to write a patient specific prescription. The motion was voted down along party lines.
Recognizing the likelihood of delay, the Senate Minority first introduced the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act in 2002 and fought for its passage. Year after year, the Senate Majority blocked the bill, but surprised many analysts and advocates last year by finally allowing the bill to come to a vote. Emergency contraception legislation passed both houses, only to be vetoed by the Governor. None of the Majority Members who voted for the bill last year supported the motion to bring it to a vote today.
“Between inaction by the FDA and partisan politics, the reproductive rights of women have been slowly eroding. Now more than ever, the women of New York State need our help. They should not have to wait any longer,” Senator Dilan said.
The bill would allow nurses and pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception through non-patient specific orders, authorized by a physician, nurse practitioner or nurse midwife. Women would be given written instructions on using the pills correctly and the importance of receiving follow-up care. The bill further requires that emergency contraception only be dispensed to female patients and only for a single course of treatment, which directly addresses the concerns raised in the Governor’s veto last year.
According to the Senator, morning after pills have proven to be highly effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours. The bill bypasses the difficulty of getting an appointment and obtaining the necessary prescription, factors that may cause some women to miss the narrow time frame.
“The argument that a woman has ample time to see a doctor and get a prescription is simply not true. This bill expedites the process and gives women the opportunity to obtain the pill in a timely manner and prevent an unwanted pregnancy” said Senator Dilan.
A study of emergency contraception in California and Washington State found that 50 percent of the women who obtained the pills without a prescription did so on the weekend or evening. By making emergency contraception available at pharmacies and from nurses without a patient-specific prescription, an estimated 82,000 abortions and almost 40,000 unintended pregnancies could be prevented annually in New York State.
The State Assembly passed its version of the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act earlier this year.