Women in California will soon have easier access to the RU-486 pill, or the “morning after” pill.
According to the Sacramento Bee, a new law will take effect on Jan. 1 that will allow women to get the pill without a doctor’s prescription.
California is becoming the second state in the nation to make RU-486 easily available to women. The pill helps to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or a birth control accident.
The law is being commended by health care advocates in the state, who feel that the access to RU-486 will help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Statistics collected by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that researches reproductive issues, have determined that half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.
“Whatever we can do to provide women with what they need to take charge is a good thing” Dr. Felicia Stewart, co-director of the Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Sacramento Bee. “Rather than just letting pregnancy be an accident, it really does make a difference for health to think about it and be ready.”
According to Dr. Wendy Chavkin, professor of public health and OB/GYN at Columbia University Medical school, “it’s a great public health advantage that American women will no longer be deprived of this safe, private alternative to a surgical abortion.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, the “morning after” pill works “primarily by delaying ovulation and preventing fertilization.” The pill may also alter the lining of the uterus to avoid the implantation of an already fertilized egg.
Some anti-abortion groups are opposing the law, saying that the pill in some cases induces abortion.
Troy Newman, director of Operation Rescue West, told the Bee that the pill “treats the human embryo like a virus that needs to be killed.” “Anytime a human being uses a surgical procedure or a chemical procedure to kill a human being, it’s murder,” said Newman.
In Washington, the first state to make the drug easily accessible, more than 40,000 women have obtained the “morning after” pill. The Sacramento Bee reports that California pharmacists will interview women to see if they are candidates for a RU-486 prescription. The pharmacists will also teach the women about the drug and its side effects, as well as give information about birth control options and sexually transmitted diseases.
For both the counseling and the prescription, it is expected that pharmacists will charge up to $50.