in the Emergency Room
Hospital provision of emergency contraception
for rape victims
Each year, an estimated 25,000 American women become pregnant following an act of sexual violence. As many as 22,000 of those pregnancies could be prevented through prompt use of emergency contraception (EC). Sometimes referred to as "the morning after pill," EC is a high dose of regular birth control pills. It is an FDA-approved method of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.
When a rape victim is receiving treatment at a hospital emergency room, she should be offered emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy from the assault. Unfortunately, that may not happen at some religiously-sponsored hospitals that incorrectly equate EC with abortion.
Since 2000, the MergerWatch Project has been working with advocates for sexual assault survivors, reproductive health organizations and concerned physicians and nurses to increase hospital provision of EC to rape victims. Sometimes, this can be accomplished through education of hospital ER and pharmacy personnel. However, in some states, legislation has been necessary to require hospitals to offer EC as part of their sexual assault treatment protocols. MergerWatch has helped win enactment of such laws in New York, Connecticut and other states. A total of 12 states and the District of Columbia now have such laws.
In 2003, MergerWatch collaborated with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project of the ACLU of Pennsylvania to create a toolkit presenting advocates with four action strategies to improve hospital policies on provision of emergency contraception. Check out this easy-to-use guide and contact us if you need help!