Assemblymember Cahill Works to Make Emergency Contraception More Accessible

Assembly passes bill making the ‘morning-after’ pill available from pharmacists
February 9, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced the passage of new legislation that would allow women needing Emergency Contraception (EC) – or the morning-after pill – to access it through a pharmacist, registered nurse or midwife without a prescription (A.888). Current law requires a prescription from a doctor before a pharmacist can dispense EC – often impeding women from getting the treatment in time to prevent pregnancy.

"Because of the nature of Emergency Contraception, it is essential that we make it available to those who need it, right when they need it," Mr. Cahill said. "This new legislation makes it easier for women to get help sooner."

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, and is already responsible for preventing 51,000 abortions in the country in 2000 alone, according to a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

"Unintended pregnancy can present psychological and financial hardships to individuals," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Emergency Contraception can avert that situation, and I call on the Governor and the Senate to act quickly to make this treatment more accessible to those who need it."