Hope for EC
For those of you not in the know, EC is not the European Economic Community but rather Emergency Contraception. Women can currently take EC within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy in 89% of cases–but only with a prescription. The FDA is now poised to approve EC for over-the-counter use. You can read an article about this on CNN.
The CNN article makes reference to the group Concerned Women for America: We’re disturbed by … lack of concern on the medical safety,” said Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy group. “Is this safe for women, when in fact there have been no studies done on the long-term effects on women who take the morning-after pill, and there are no studies that have been done on multiple use — if a woman uses it more than once.” Interestly, the CNN story did not initially label CWA as a conservative group–a later version of the article added the description. CWA has a tendency to cloak its anti-legal abortion and anti-woman stances with paternalistic concern for women’s health, a tactic the anti-abortion movement seems to be leaning toward lately. CWA has even suggested that abortion be made illegal because of supposed post-abortion mental health concerns. There no evidence that women suffer mental disturbance after an abortion. I suppose if we were to use this “women’s health” argument pregnancy ought to be outlawed since severe post-partum depression is such a risk.
EC ought to stop this “women’s health” debate in its tracks. Why? OTC approval will eliminate a number of considerations. First, women will no longer have to find a public (read: non-Catholic) hospital or clinic to prescribe EC after unprotected sex or rape. Since all EC does is stimulate a menstrual period, there really is no health risk (unless groups like CWA also want to start arguing that periods are bad?). Second, according to Planned Parenthood, EC will eliminate the need for more than 50% of the medical and surgical abortions in this country. Um, how can anyone argue that this would be a bad thing? And third, OTC EC will make early prevention of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy no longer a discussion between a woman and a paternalistic public or a woman and her doctor. It will be a decision made by a woman for herself.
UPDATE! My excellent mother has just pointed out that EC is an important option not only for women who have had unprotected sex but also for those who tried to have protected sex and experienced something like condom failure. This is an important point: my very few readers should understand that EC isn’t just for rape victims and women who don’t attempt to use contraception.