Legislature Passes Emergency Contraception Bill

Measure now awaits governor’s signature
June 23, 2005

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Tompkins/Cortland), Chair of the Assembly’s Taskforce on Women’s Issues, urged the governor to sign legislation she sponsored into law. The Assembly passed the bill (A.116) in January and the Senate approved the measure Wednesday (S.3661) that would allow women needing Emergency Contraception (EC) or the morning-after pill to access it through a pharmacist or registered nurse without a prescription.

"Emergency Contraception should be available to women when they need it," Lifton said. "This legislation gives women the access they need without the added burden of getting a prescription when time is of the essence."

Current law requires a prescription from a doctor before a pharmacist can dispense EC often impeding women from getting treatment in time to prevent pregnancy.

The FDA approved the morning-after pill in 1997. The pill is a higher dosage of standard birth control pills and must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy although it is most effective if taken within the first 24 hours. EC can reduce the risk of pregnancy up to 89 percent when used correctly.

The morning-after pill could prevent as many as 1.7 million unintended pregnancies each year in the United States. According to a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, EC was responsible for preventing 51,000 abortions in the country in the year 2000.

EC is often confused with RU-486 the so-called abortion pill but works in a completely different manner. EC prevents conception; it will not end an established pregnancy, as does RU-486.

"There are times when birth control fails," Lifton said. "When this happens, women should be able to access Emergency Contraception as soon as possible. I urge the governor to immediately sign this legislation and give women access to the treatment they need, when they need it."