Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBuilding strong public health capacity across the US Texas abortion law creates 2022 headache for GOP Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill MORE (D-Wash.) introduced a bill that aims to increase public awareness and access to emergency contraception.
Murray said her bill was needed in part because nearly 30,000 women a year become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, and some states have enacted restrictions on emergency contraception.
“Emergency contraception is a safe, responsible and effective means of preventing unintended pregnancies — a goal we all should share,” Murray said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, in spite of its increased availability, emergency contraception remains an underused prevention method in the United States, especially for survivors of sexual assault."
S. 2876, the Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act, would require any hospital that receives federal funds through Medicare or Medicaid to offer emergency contraception to survivors of sexual assault regardless of their ability to pay for the drug, which is also known as “Plan B.”
Some religious conservatives argue that “Plan B” is a form of abortion, but according to doctors, the medication simply prevents pregnancy from occurring.
Murray’s bill would also direct the Health and Human Services secretary to develop and distribute information to the public about how emergency contraception works and where it is available.
The HHS secretary would also be required to provide that information to healthcare providers and pharmacists. Currently, six states allow pharmacists to refuse to provide emergency contraception to customers, despite the Food and Drug Administration declaring the drug safe and effective for women of all ages.
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn defense of share buybacks Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo In Washington, the road almost never taken MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are co-sponsoring the bill.
"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," Warren said. "This bill is a significant step that will give doctors the tools they need to provide women with more information and critical care."