Emergency contraception heads to the states

With the FDA dragging its feet for almost five years on making emergency contraception available over the counter, many states are taking matters into their own hands -- for better or worse. The Baltimore Sun reports:

Under the proposed Maryland law, pharmacists who volunteer to receive special training may dispense the pills. The law does not require all pharmacists to furnish the pills, and the State Board of Pharmacy estimated 5 percent of Maryland's 5,331 licensed pharmacists would initially participate.

Legislation in other states would allow pharmacists to provide Plan B directly to women under an agreement with a doctor giving the pharmacist blanket permission to sell the drug or require emergency rooms to provide it to rape victims, said Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights group that is tracking the efforts.

On the other side of the debate are laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on their beliefs:
Abortion opponents are fighting the efforts of Plan B supporters by proposing measures in Illinois, Michigan and 13 other states that would permit pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription because it violates their beliefs. Four states - Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota - already have such laws on the books.

The messed up thing here is that Plan B is tied to abortion. It's not an abortion pill, a la RU-486 -- it's a medication that prevents conception, just like the regular Pill, only in higher doses. For more insight on what fundamentalist pharmacists are thinking, check out this must-see interview on the Daily Show (click on "Pill of Rights"), with its frighteningly true quote: "The question remains, who will control a woman's body - the governor or her pharmacist?"

UPDATE: Center for Policy Alternatives policy director Bernie Horn writes in:
Just FYI, when you are talking about progressive legislation in the states, you may want to look at our website, www.stateaction.org, as a resource. We’re the folks who coordinate a Progressive Agenda across the fifty states.

The legislators who push for "collaborative practice" in emergency contraception, as well as emergency contraception for sexual assault victims, are generally part of our State Action Network.

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