Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
 
media center

NEWS IN CONTEXT

Pharmacist refusals impede women's timely access to emergency contraception

March 21, 2006

March 21 is the Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action, a time to increase awareness of and access to emergency contraception. Emergency contraception, sometimes called the “morning-after pill,” gives women a second chance to prevent unintended pregnancies that often end in abortion.

Because emergency contraception is more effective the sooner it is taken, eliminating delays caused by the need to obtain and fill prescriptions (particularly over weekends and holidays) can help ensure that women have the method when they need it. Yet some states are making it more difficult for women to access emergency contraception in a timely manner. Four states have laws explicitly allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions; 18 states have introduced similar legislation so far this year.

Emergency contraception consists of the same hormones found in ordinary birth control pills. When taken in a concentrated dosage within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, these hormones can prevent a pregnancy from occurring. Emergency contraception is not "the abortion pill" (mifepristone or RU-486) and will not affect an established pregnancy.

Click on the links below for more information on

Back Up Your Birth Control Day;

Professional standards and pharmacist refusals;

Pharmacies that won’t sell emergency contraception;

What your state is doing to improve access to emergency contraception;

Whether your state allows pharmacists to refuse to fill your prescription.