Pennsylvania Bill Would Require Hospitals To Provide EC To Rape Survivors

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Emergency Contraception For Rape Survivors

The Pennsylvania House on Wednesday voted 109-86 to postpone until Oct. 22 consideration of a bill (HB 288) that would require hospitals in the state to provide access to emergency contraception to rape survivors, the AP/CNNMoney.com reports (Scolforo, AP/CNNMoney.com, 10/3).

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Thebill, sponsored by Rep. Daylin Leach (D), would mandate all hospitals,regardless of religious affiliation, to provide rape survivors withinformation about EC, notify them that the hospital can provide EC andprovide it if requested. EC can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72hours of sexual intercourse. Currently, more than half the hospitals inthe state do not provide EC, according to Leach. Stacy Kriederman, aspokesperson for the Department of Health, said that there is no requirement for hospitals to provide EC.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer,some state lawmakers who support the postponement said they needed moretime to consider the ramifications of what they believe "amounts toeffectively legislating medical policy." Other supporters said theywanted to delay the vote because the Health Department is proposing tochange its regulations to require all hospitals to inform anddistribute EC. However, the Health Department's proposal, which isbeing reviewed on Oct. 18 by the state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission, would allow hospitals to opt out for religious reasons.

Supportersof the bill on Wednesday said that the measure had been discussed formonths and the subject of several hearings, adding that it is theLegislature's job, not the Health Department's, to make laws. "I thinkwe should stop being cowards and put our votes on the table," Rep.Louise Williams Bishop (D) said (Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4).

Rep. John Maher (R) said that even if hospitals are not forced to offer EC, Barr Laboratories'EC Plan B will be available over the counter in pharmacies. He added,"Rest assured that anyone 18 or older can acquire Plan B at any ...pharmacy in this state just by walking up to the counter and asking forit." Rep. Josh Shapiro (D) noted that rape survivors might not be inthe position to shop for EC, adding that a "16-year-old girl cannotwalk up to the counter, because she requires a prescription"(AP/CNNMoney.com, 10/3).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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