Murray Joins Booker to Introduce Legislation to Protect Women’s Access to Contraception

Jul 21 2014

ABC Act would protect women from intentional pharmacy interference with birth control decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to introduce the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act, legislation to ensure that any woman with a valid prescription is not denied or intimidated when requesting birth control or emergency contraception at pharmacies.

“As women are still scratching their heads in disbelief after what has transpired over the past few weeks when it comes to their personal health care decisions, I am proud to support this commonsense legislation from Senator Booker that takes proactive steps to ensure women have efficient access to this basic health care service,” said Senator Murray. “It’s disappointing that in 2014 this legislation is even necessary, but as the tide of politically-driven, extreme efforts to block a woman’s access to reproductive health services continues to rise, we are going to stand with women and help protect this access.”

“Sadly, in some states individual pharmacists are using their personal views as a basis to deny women access to birth control,” said Senator Booker. “The Access to Birth Control Act keeps pharmacists out of a woman’s personal family planning decisions and ensures women have timely, unhindered access to contraception. All women deserve the right to make their own private decisions concerning their health, and to do so free from discrimination or harassment. Given the Supreme Court’s recent disturbing ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, we need to go on the offense to protect women’s reproductive rights.”   

The Access to Birth Control Act ensures women’s timely access to reproductive health care. It requires pharmacies to help a woman obtain her prescribed type of contraceptive. If the requested product is not in stock, it requires a pharmacy to order the prescription, refer the woman to another pharmacy, or return the prescription – whichever scenario the woman chooses.

The bill was introduced five times previously by the honorable U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

The Access to Birth Control Act is cosponsored by Sens. Menendez (D-NJ), Blumenthal (D-CT), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Feinstein (D-CA), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Sanders (D-VT), Tester (D-MT), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Warren (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WIS), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Markey (D-MA), Begich (D-AK) and Shaheen (D-NH).

What supporters of the Access to Birth Control Act are saying:

“Contraceptives help to improve the health of our nation's women and children. They help women control the timing and number of births, reducing the risk of low birth weight and preterm births,” said Dr. John C. Jennings, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that women have timely access to the contraceptives that play an essential role in preventive care.”

"It is unbelievable that we're still fighting to protect access to birth control in 2014," said Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President. “Decisions about birth control should be between a woman and her doctor, not her pharmacist, her boss, or her Congressman."

"When women go to the pharmacy to pick up birth control, they are looking for their medicine not a lecture of obstruction from pharmacists who believe they know better than us about our health care choices,” said Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America President.