Democratic senators have introduced a bill to require any hospital receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funding to provide free emergency contraception to sexual assault victims.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said preventing”unintended” pregnancy should be “a goal we all should share.”
“Unfortunately, in spite of its increased availability, emergency contraception remains an underused prevention method in the United States, especially for survivors of sexual assault,” said Murray. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation with my colleagues who understand the importance of educating both provider and patient on this critical element of a woman’s health care.”
Murray introduced the Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014 with Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Under the bill, morning-after pills such as the Plan B One-Step pill must be provided if a hospital wants to maintain its federal funding to “any woman who arrives at the hospital and states that she is a victim of sexual assault, or is accompanied by someone who states she is a victim of sexual assault; and any woman who arrives at the hospital whom hospital personnel have reason to believe is a victim of sexual assault.”
The hospital must “promptly” provide the woman with “medically and factually accurate and unbiased written and oral information about emergency contraception.”
It must provide the pill upon the woman’s request, even if she is unable to pay.
“Survivors of sexual assault have a right to all support, services, and treatments that they need in order to avoid additional suffering following an assault,” said Blumenthal.
“No woman should be forced to endure the trauma of sexual assault and the potential unintended outcomes without knowing all of the options available to her,” added Booker. “I am pleased to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that ensures victims are not only treated compassionately but also given timely, unhindered access to emergency contraception.”