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Governor Pataki Vetoes Emergency Contraception Access Bill

Shortly before the Reproductive Rights Project participated in a rally to urge Governor Pataki to sign the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act, we learned that the Governor had vetoed the bill. This bill, which passed both houses of the N.Y. State Legislature with bipartisan support, would have allowed pharmacists and nurses to dispense emergency contraception (“EC”) to women without a doctor’s prescription. Governor Pataki claimed that he vetoed the measure because it lacked an age restriction.

EC, or the “morning after pill,” is an extremely safe and effective means of reducing the risk of pregnancy by as much as 89% when taken as soon as possible within five days after unprotected sex or contraception failure.

Seven states already permit sale of EC without a doctor’s prescription. Research suggests that prompt access to EC could prevent nearly half of all unintended pregnancies, and no studies or evidence have found that fast access to EC increases sexual activity or the use of barrier contraceptives among teens or adults.

We rallied outside the Governor’s Manhattan office, along with members of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, and others. Lee Che Leong, Director of the NYCLU’s Teen Health Initiative, spoke about the importance of making EC accessible to adolescents. Advocates also gathered on the steps of the Capitol Building in Albany earlier that day to encourage Governor Pataki to sign the bill into law.

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