News Releases

Washington, D.C.) - Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) introduced "The Emergency Contraception Education Act," with Representative Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

The bill would establish a public education and awareness program to provide women with information on the availability of safe and effective emergency contraceptives. The five year education plan would cost $10 million annually.

What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception is a concentrated dose of ordinary birth control pills that can prevent pregnancy.

Emergency contraception has the potential to help women avoid the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy. Emergency contraception can significantly reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in this country.

Why Is An Education Program Needed?

Unfortunately for millions of American women, emergency contraception is also a well-kept secret. Less than 12% of women are even aware of the availability of FDA-approved, safe and effective emergency contraceptives, which can prevent unintended pregnancies, if taken with 72 hours.

Bill Summary:

The bill directs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish an Emergency Contraception Public Education Program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The program shall provide a description of emergency contraception and an explanation of its use, safety, efficacy and availability to nonprofit organizations, consumer groups, institutions of higher education, Federal, State, or local agencies, clinics and the media.

The Program shall also disseminate information through the Health Resources Administration to major medical and public health organizations on the use, safety, efficacy and availability of emergency contraceptives and a recommendation regarding their use.

Appropriations for this Program in the amount of $10,000,000 will be authorized for the years 2003 through 2007.

Senator Murray's remarks at a press conference follow:

I am pleased to be joined today by Congresswoman Slaughter in introducing Emergency Contraception Education Act. Louise has been a leader on women's health issues in the House and I have been happy to work with her on this important issue.

I am joined in introducing this legislation by Senators Boxer, Cantwell and Corzine.

We are here today for one reason – education.

Our bill authorizes a public education and outreach effort to provide women with information on the availability of safe and effective emergency contraceptives.

Emergency contraception is a concentrated dose of ordinary birth control pills that can prevent pregnancy.

Emergency contraception has the potential to help women avoid the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy. Emergency contraception can significantly reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in this country.

Unfortunately for millions of American women, emergency contraception is also a well-kept secret. Less than 12% of women are even aware of the availability of FDA-approved, safe and effective emergency contraceptives, which can prevent unintended pregnancies, if taken with 72 hours.

I want to applaud the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association for their efforts to improve the availability of emergency contraceptives.

Washington state is one of only two states that have followed the recommendations of ACOG by allowing women access to emergency contraceptives without a prescription. Part of my goal in introducing this legislation is to expand the efforts underway in Washington state to the rest of the country.

Our bill authorizes an education and outreach program through the Department of Health & Human Services in consultation with health care providers.

It authorizes $10 million a year, for five years, for an public awareness campaign to let people know what Emergency contraception is, how it is used, and how it can be obtained

This legislation is about educating women to allow them to make informed decisions based on their own circumstances and needs.

We know that counseling in many emergency rooms - about safe and effective emergency contraceptives - is simply being ignored. Providing emergency contraceptives is still not standard protocol in many instances. By educating women, they will not be at the mercy of overworked health care providers.

I hope that this legislation will allow us to have the debate, and to educate and inform other members of congress.

This is a women's health care issue.