Senator Murray is dedicated to ensuring that all women have access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Reproductive health is a critical component of women's health. Birth control and medically accurate sexual education are important parts of preventative health care for women, and help reduce unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and the need for abortions.
Murray is working to improve women's access to reproductive health services, boost funding for important reproductive health programs, and increase education and awareness about reproductive health issues.
Senator Murray is a strong advocate for policies that reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies in Washington state and the nation.
Murray has introduced and cosponsored numerous amendments that would increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sexual education programs. She is also a cosponsor of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act, which would provide federal funds to support science-based, medically accurate sex education.
For three years, the FDA stalled the decision to make the morning-after pill (commonly known as Plan B) available over-the-counter. Making it easier for women to access emergency contraception such as Plan B has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. Each year, 3,000,000 pregnancies, or one-half of all pregnancies, in the United States are unintended, and half of all of these unintended pregnancies end in abortion. However, despite overwhelming support for approval from FDA's own scientific advisory boards, the FDA rejected the manufacturer’s first application and delayed making a decision on the new application.
In response to the FDA's actions, Senator Murray decided to place a “hold” on the confirmation of two nominees to head the FDA (first Dr. Lester Crawford and more recently Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach). Senator Murray has always supported a strong and independent FDA – an FDA that follows science, not ideology. By ignoring sound science, the FDA was jeopardizing public confidence and the health of American women.
In August of 2006, the FDA finally approved over-the-counter access to Plan B for people over age 18. Senator Murray applauded the FDA's decision, and she lifted her hold on Dr. von Eschenbach’s nomination. While Murray urges the FDA to revisit placing age restrictions on the sale of Plan B, it is real progress that millions of American women will now have increased access to emergency contraception.
In addition to pushing the FDA to make a decision about Plan B, Senator Murray has introduced legislation to increase awareness of emergency contraception. It is estimated that the use of emergency contraception may cut the number of unintended pregnancies in half, thereby reducing the need for abortion. However, a third of women of reproductive age don't know that emergency contraceptives are available.
Senator Murray has introduced legislation and supported amendments which would establish a public education and awareness program to provide women with information on the availability of safe and effective emergency contraceptives.
Murray is a supporter of the “Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act,” which would require hospitals who receive federal funds to offer emergency contraceptives to a woman who is a victim of sexual assault.
Senator Murray has also fought to ensure that pharmacies cannot prevent women from filling a prescription for emergency contraception or other forms of contraception. She has cosponsored the “Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act” and the “Access to Birth Control Act,” both of which would prohibit pharmacists from preventing or deterring an individual from filling a legal prescription.
While almost all insurance plans cover prescription drugs, many do not cover all of the contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the FDA. In fact, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, women pay more out-of-pocket for their health care needs than men do – in large part due to the exclusion of contraceptives from so many plans.
Senator Murray successfully fought to require health plans for federal employees to provide contraceptive equity.
Murray has also consistently supported legislation to prohibit health insurance providers from excluding the FDA-approved contraceptive drugs or devices from normal coverage and to prohibit patients from being denied coverage for requesting contraceptives.
Senator Murray is one of the Senate's leaders in protecting women's reproductive rights and freedom of choice. Reproductive rights are an integral part of reproductive health care. One of her priorities as a Senator -- and as a mother -- is to ensure that all women in this country have the opportunity to make decisions about their bodies and their health. Murray believes the government must not interfere with a woman's private decision, and she is concerned when attempts are made to restrict a woman from making her own choices.
Fighting Attempts to Weaken Roe v. Wade