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May 14, 2010

NARAL Pro-Choice America Endorses Bill to Protect Women's Access to Birth Control

Fifty years after FDA first approved birth-control pill, American women still face barriers to contraception

Washington, DC - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) for re-introducing the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act, a bill to ensure that women receive their birth control at the pharmacy counter.

The bill's re-introduction in both chambers comes as Americans mark the 50th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the birth-control pill. The introduction and anniversary unfortunately coincide with an ongoing campaign by anti-choice groups and their allies to curb women's access to contraception.

"Five decades after the FDA first approved the birth-control pill, it is unbelievable that American women still face obstacles to accessing this basic medication at the pharmacy counter," Keenan said. "Thankfully, we have strong leaders like Rep. Maloney and Sen. Lautenberg who believe in guaranteeing women's access to contraception. We are proud to work with them to advance this bill and other policies that will improve the lives of women and their families."

Keenan said the federal action is especially necessary as women's access to contraception often depends on the state in which they live. Currently, only seven states have enacted laws that require pharmacies to fill women's birth-control prescriptions. Recently, there has been a rise in the number of states where anti-choice politicians are introducing refusal bills, including a one in Arizona that would allow hospitals, pharmacies, and individuals to reuse to provide birth control. The Arizona law is the subject of a pending legal challenge.

"The concept is simple: Women should be able to walk into a pharmacy and leave with the medication they need," Keenan said. "It is mind boggling that the same people who attack legal abortion also want to block women's access to contraception, which is one of the best ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the need for abortion."

NARAL Pro-Choice America also compiled a list of stories of women who have been denied access to birth control at the pharmacy counter.

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