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Happy Contraceptive Awareness Week! Support The Prevention First Bill
by NOW
Monday Feb 13th, 2006 11:09 PM
In recognition of National Contraceptive Awareness Week, Feb. 13-19, 2006, please urge your Senators and Representatives to sponsor legislation to promote improved family planning and health care for women and families.
Urge Your Members of Congress to Support the Prevention First Bill

In recognition of National Contraceptive Awareness Week, Feb. 13-19, 2006, please urge your Senators and Representatives to sponsor legislation to promote improved family planning and health care for women and families. And in the spirit of Valentine's Day, send an unusual valentine to emphasize your support for increased awareness and improved national policies dealing with women's health, contraceptives, birth control and family planning.

Your voice is vital to counter our opponents as they mount increasingly aggressive anti-women campaigns in the states and Congress with proposals to: undermine contraception; allow pharmacists to refuse filling prescriptions; bully the FDA into keeping Emergency Contraception inaccessible to most women; deny EC access or even information about EC to rape survivors; promote abstinence only education; and oppose condom use even as girls' and women's health, safety and futures are jeopardized.

Action Needed:

Please urge your Senators to sponsor and support S.20, the "Prevention First Act," introduced by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and urge your Representative to support the House counterpart, HR. 1709, introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY).

This legislative package proposes to improve reproductive health care services provided to girls and women. It expands access to family planning services, ends insurance discrimination against women, provides sexual assault survivors with access to emergency contraception and improves medically accurate awareness about contraception -- all with the goal of improving women's health and reducing unintended, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

Please either thank them for being a sponsor, or urge them to sign onto this bill. Sponsoring these bills should be a top priority, especially for elected officials whose platforms include reducing abortions and preventing teenage and unwanted pregnancies. We must remind them of these pledges and use our voices and influence to convince those who represent us in Congress to take a stand on this important initiative.

Background:

Emergency Contraception (EC) - Information about and access to emergency contraception is currently in jeopardy. In a decision the General Accounting Office (GAO) termed "highly unusual," the FDA ignored the recommendations of its own advisory boards (two of them) -- and opinions from outside experts and activists -- in declining to make EC available for over-the-counter purchase. Further, in 2005, the Department of Justice alarmingly did not include EC in its National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination.

It became clear that the omission of emergency contraception from the protocol was intentional when, on Feb. 10, 2005, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) was denied an opportunity to submit testimony protesting the failure to include EC in the protocol at a public hearing held by the Justice Department. Hundreds of national, state and local groups, including NOW, also protested this massive, politically-motivated omission.

Increasing Access to Affordable Contraception and Reducing Teenage Pregnancies

Unintended and unwanted pregnancies often lead to pregnancy termination. Safe, affordable contraceptives, including EC, reduce the number of teen pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Currently, most health insurance providers do not offer reimbursement for reversible forms of contraception like the Pill. These providers -— and many policy leaders -— fail to realize that contraception is an important medical necessity, that girls and women use contraception to determine their childbearing options and that we will be far closer to "every child a wanted child" if contraception is made safe, affordable and more readily available.

Resources:

* Prevention First bill
* Action suggestions for local and state organizations and activists to ensure that women receive better reproductive health care and that rape survivors have access to emergency contraception
* Emergency Contraception: A Safe & Effective Contraceptive Option for Teens (Advocates for Youth)

Please write to your Senators and Representative and either thank them for being a co-sponsor, or urge them to sign onto this bill (our online system will provide the appropriate sample message for you to send).