Senators introduce bill to expand access to emergency contraception for rape survivors


Democratic senators have introduced a new bill to raise awareness about emergency contraception and make it available to rape survivors at federally funded hospitals.

The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014 was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) signing on as co-sponsors. The bill would ensure that any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds provides accurate information and timely access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they can pay for it. It would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to disseminate information on emergency contraception to pharmacists and health care providers.

Providing information and guidelines about the drug to pharmacists seems particularly important, given that the long and complicated journey to fully over-the-counter access has left many confused about the rules. A study that came out just this week found that men have a lot of difficulty buying EC, often being falsely told they need their female partner’s ID to get it. In reality, the rules are quite simple: Any person of any gender and any age is allowed to buy EC at a drugstore without a perscription and without showing a damn thing. Still, six states explicitly allow pharmactists to refuse to provide EC just because they don’t want to. (Just imagine if all of us were allowed to opt out of doing our jobs so easily!)

The bill would also give the general public information about how emergency contraception works and where it is available. “Unfortunately, in spite of its increased availability,” Sen. Patty Murray explained, “emergency contraception remains an underused prevention method in the United States, especially for survivors of sexual assault.”

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation