Emergency Contraception Ruling a Win for Immigrant Women

Apr. 22, 2013 / By

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New America Media, Commentary, Jessica González-Rojas

Women’s health advocates received welcome news earlier this month when a federal judge ruled that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must make the most popular forms of emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill) available for all women over-the-counter. That means that any person will now be able to buy emergency contraception for themself or their partner, when they need it and without a prescription or proof of age. As the executive director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, one of the plaintiffs in the case, I am pleased to say this commonsense ruling is a big win for Latinas and immigrant women.

It’s also long overdue. Medical professionals and women’s advocates first recommended that EC go over-the-counter in 2003, and what followed was a decade of politically-motivated delays and blocks that kept EC behind the counter and out of reach for many women. Until now, people under 17 who needed EC had to get a prescription first, and those 17 and older had to go to the pharmacy counter during business hours and show government-issued photo ID. Because emergency contraception is most effective when taken up to 3 days after contraceptive failure or unprotected sex, delays caused by the need to get a prescription or find an open pharmacy have kept many women from timely access to pregnancy prevention. With this court’s ruling, emergency contraception will finally be where it belongs, on store shelves between the condoms and the pregnancy tests.

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