Bill in U.S. Congress Could Expand Access to Plan B

Although the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of emergency contraception without a prescription last year, that doesn’t mean it’s always available at pharmacies, as Colorado Confidential reported in November. Now, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, has introduced a bill that would require all pharmacies that stock any form of contraception to also stock emergency contraception.

“An American woman can decide to put her life on the line for our country in Iraq, but she can be prevented from making basic decisions about her own health here at home,” Maloney said in a press release.  “Access to birth control is a women’s health issue, a private matter and a constitutional right.  No one – not pharmacists, politicians, or religious leaders – should be able to tamper with that right.”

continued…Under the Access to Birth Control Act, pharmacists would not be allowed to object on religious grounds. The bill states: “If a customer requests a contraceptive that is in stock, the pharmacy shall ensure that the contraceptive is provided to the customer without delay.” If the pills are out of stock, pharmacists would be required to order them for the customer or refer her to another pharmacy.

Gov. Ritter signed a bill this year that requires pharmacies that don’t stock emergency contraception to post a sign saying so in order to save women valuable time waiting in line. EC, which prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. But the sooner, the better.

Under the new bill, pharmacies could face a fine of $5,000 per day for violations and customers could sue pharmacies if they believe the law has been broken.

Read Colorado Confidential’s coverage of EC.