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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Few ERs give morning-after pill

By Miranda Bond

Managing Editor

Getting emergency contraception is easier said than done. According to a survey by the NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation, out of the 151 emergency rooms in Ohio, two hospitals stated that they give EC to women in their emergency room for any reason.

The results shocked Kellie Copeland, executive director for NARAL Ohio.

“I was horrified, absolutely horrified,” Copeland said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be peaches and cream, but we never thought it would be as bad as they were.”

The extensive survey was set up as if an average woman called in requesting EC. Overall, 31 percent of the hospitals said they do distribute EC to sexual assault victims. And 35 percent said it was the doctor’s decision to give EC to victims. Also, 24.5 percent said they do no give out EC, regardless of the situation.

Copeland explained that in some cases, the receptionists being asked about EC might have not known about their hospitals’ policies. She said a lot of times, it may be the hospital’s policy to dispense EC, however, the representative answering the phone was possibly unaware of their policy.

“Our goal is to shine light on this problem and to work with hospitals to make it better,” Copeland said. “It is so important. They have a right to access birth control.”

Copeland said NARAL sent letters to each hospital notifying them of their results. She said the group hopes that hospitals will make their staff aware of their policies with more staff training, if necessary.

At the Wood County Hospital, not all doctors will prescribe EC because of personal beliefs. However, David Caprara, manager of the emergency department, said there is almost always a physician on duty that will prescribe it.

“Hospitals and medical clinics don’t tell the physicians how to prescribe,” he said. “They are really independent from the hospital, it is a place for them to practice.”

When a patient comes into the hospital seeking EC, they are required to be checked out by a doctor.

“Just like if a patient comes in asking for an aspirin, they want to ask and see if there is anything more to it,” Caprara said.

Mainly, the doctor is concerned the patient may have been sexually assaulted. And if that is the case, different medical treatment should be administered.

EC may be easier to get at the BGSU Student Health Center. After being seen by a doctor, most women can get a prescription filled.

However as Copeland pointed out, the Student Health Center has limited hours and is closed over holidays and long weekends. Because EC is most effective when it is used 24 to 72 hours after sexual intercourse, Copeland said that going to the emergency room might be a woman’s only option.

“They are being responsible, they are doing the right thing,” she said. “To be turned away when they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, it’s just maddening.”

Copeland said a woman’s own doctor may be unwilling to prescribe EC due to their personal beliefs. And even if a woman does get a prescription from their doctor, their pharmacist can refuse to fill the prescription because of their personal beliefs.

Many health officials see EC as a form of abortion. Anti-choice groups often try to associate EC with RU 486, the abortion pill. But Copeland said EC is not a form of abortion, because it cannot terminate a pregnancy, only prevent it.

Copeland recommended women should check with their doctors to see if they are willing to prescribe it. She also said women may want to keep a dose of EC on hand, because it is most effective when taken within 24 hours of intercourse.

She said when accidents happen, people get caught up in the moment and may forget to use birth control, and sexual assaults happen everyday, so keeping EC in the medicine cabinets is not a bad idea.

Copeland said her group is working to make EC more readily available. NARAL is pushing to get Plan B, the most widely used EC available over the counter.

“We feel strongly that women should have access to it,” she said. “You have 32,000 pregnancies that occur as a result of rape and there is no excuse for that. If emergency contraceptive was available, that number would almost certainly evaporate.”

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