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Stop picking on EC

May 7, 2009

In the U.S., last month the FDA expanded over-the-counter access to emergency contraception (EC) lowering the age at which you can get it from 18 to 17.  It was truly excellent news.

In other parts of the world, the war against EC is raging.  And I really have no idea why…do anti-choice groups think it’s low hanging fruit?  Are they grasping at straws? EC is not an abortifacient.  Check the facts.

In Honduras, last month I reported that the Congress passed a bill criminalizing the use, sale, distribution or promotion of EC.  Sad, sad news. The bill is languishing…and it’s not yet clear whether the President will sign or veto it.  My friends at the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception tell me they’re calling on local and global women’s groups to start putting the pressure on, sending the clear message that EC is preventing pregnancies and — in a country where unsafe abortion is widely practiced  — is actually saving lives.

In Peru, despite a major victory earlier this year that enabled free and easy access to EC for all women, anti-choice groups are working on eroding these rights.   A very fierce feminist organization in Peru called Promsex (yup, you read that right) is defending the right of ALL women to freely access EC and recently testified on behalf of the Ministry of Health at the Constitutional Tribunal in Arequipa, Peru that — once again to be clear — EC is not an abortive pill and should be distributed freely as a contraceptive.

The bottom line is that we shouldn’t have to keep having the same go-rounds about a simple pill that is preventing unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and is benefiting the lives and health of millions of women.  To me, this seems like a point that anti- and pro-choice groups can come together on, since it’s about p-r-e-v-e-n-t-i-o-n.  If someone can explain the outrage and resistance to me, other than saying EC causes abortions which it doesn’t…I’m all ears.

J.Mack is a global feminist residing in Brooklyn.

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