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CFFC in the News - 2006

united press international

Catholic ERs Deny Emergency Contraceptive

3 February 2006

In states where hospitals must dispense emergency contraception, 35 percent of Catholic sites still do not, says a study.

In the survey, conducted for Catholics for a Free Choice, female mystery callers contacted hospitals in California, New Mexico, New York, Washington and South Carolina and told them they had been victims of a sexual assault and asked for emergency contraception.

Among Catholic hospitals that have official policies of offering the treatment for sexual assault victims, only half indicated over the phone that it was available, the study revealed.

As for the other half, the person answering the phone either misinformed callers or did not know whether EC was available.

Slightly more than half of hospitals that did not offer the treatment gave the caller the name and telephone number of another facility where EC might be available. Of those referrals, 53 percent actually led to a facility where EC could be obtained.

At 20 percent of hospitals, callers encountered negative responses including evasiveness, hanging up or scolding, the poll showed.

At the time of the study, California, New Mexico, New York and Washington had specific state laws of administrative guidelines requiring that victims of sexual assault be counseled about and provided with EC upon request. South Carolina has a statute specifying that the state would pay for the costs of routine care for sexual-assault patients, including EC.

Emergency contraception -- also known by its brand name Plan B or as the morning-after pill -- can prevent pregnancy for days after unwanted or unprotected intercourse but is most effective when taken less than 72 hours after.

Opponents of EC say it is the equivalent of an abortion. The official teaching of the Catholic Church opposes EC and other contraceptives.

This article courtesy of United Press International.