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December 16, 2009

NARAL Pro-Choice America Praises Rep. Michaud for Introducing the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised Rep. Michael Michaud for introducing the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act in the House.

This bill would guarantee that servicewomen stationed overseas have timely access to emergency contraception (EC).

"We applaud Rep. Michaud's leadership in promoting basic fairness for women in the military," Keenan said. "His work on this bill illustrates how lawmakers with different views on a woman's right to choose can unite behind commonsense, common-ground measures. This bill is especially important, given the increase in reports of sexual assaults in the military. We look forward to working with Rep. Michaud and other supporters in moving this important bill forward."

One day after Michaud, a long-time leader on this issue, introduced the House bill, another member of Maine's congressional delegation, Sen. Olympia Snowe, joined Sen. Al Franken in introducing the legislation in that chamber.

The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act would guarantee that the approximate 350,000 women in the military have access to EC, also known as the "morning-after" pill, on every overseas military base. Servicewomen and providers alike have reported that they cannot obtain the medication when they need it. A panel of medical experts at the Department of Defense approved this policy in 2002. But only weeks later then-President Bush's political appointees overruled the decision without explanation – yet another example of that administration placing politics and ideology ahead of women's health.

EC is a concentrated dose of ordinary birth-control pills that can dramatically reduce a woman's chance of becoming pregnant if taken soon after sex. EC does not cause abortion; rather it is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales for adults in August 2006.

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