Gov. Owens must be persuaded to sign the Emergency Contraception Bill |

Gov. Owens must be persuaded to sign the Emergency Contraception Bill

Rhoda WhitneySilverthorne

Both houses of the Colorado Legislature recently passed a bill that offers protection to victims of sexual assault. The bill requires emergency health care facilities to inform a victim of sexual assault of the availability of emergency contraception (EC), and to offer to dispense it or refer the victim to a pharmacy that can dispense it.It also encourages these facilities to provide training about emergency contraception for their employees. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Emergency Medicine care standards state that sexual assault victims must be counseled about their risk of pregnancy and offered emergency contraception.At least 30 percent of Colorado hospital ERs do not provide education about EC for rape victims. Fewer than half have a written policy regarding EC for sexual assault patients. Victims of sexual assault should not be forced to face an unintended pregnancy as the result of a violent attack. EC is a safe and effective method to prevent unintended pregnancy, and it can give women who have been sexually assaulted a sense of control and help them cope with the trauma of the assault.Clearly this new law is needed. Only about 10 percent of women in the U.S. know about EC. It is vital that emergency health care facilities be required to inform women who are victims of sexual assault that EC exists.Gov. Owens opposes EC and has indicated that he will not sign this bill. Each of us should call or write him and urge him to sign this bill and support women who are victims of sexual assault.

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