May 17, 2007

House vote on Emergency Contraception for military women

I yield the balance of this post to the ACLU, who doesn't seem to have this up on their website yet ...

Women in the military have committed their lives to protecting ours - now they need us to stand up for their reproductive health and rights.

Late yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Representatives Michael Michaud (D - ME) and Tim Ryan (R - OH) the green light to offer their bipartisan amendment to the Department of Defense reauthorization bill that would restore emergency contraception to the pharmacy formulary, or list of available medications, on military bases worldwide.

What does that mean? If the amendment passes, American military women stationed in the U.S. and abroad will once again have access to emergency contraceptives that can help prevent unintended pregnancy if taken quickly and correctly after sex or sexual assault.

For military women stationed abroad, with limited access to reproductive health services, this is a vitally important vote.

A vote is expected tonight or tomorrow. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard now at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your member of Congress - urge him or her to support the Michaud/Ryan amendment to the DoD reauthorization bill currently on the floor.

Emergency contraception is not currently available at many military health care facilities. Instead, each base commander determines what will be stocked on their individual bases.

The Department of Defense has previously recognized the need for access to emergency contraception for military women: in 2002, the Department of Defense added EC to its Basic Core Formulary, making it available by prescription at military health facilities. However, one month later and without explanation, Defense Department officials removed EC from the Formulary. The Michaud/Ryan Amendment would address this omission and ensure that military women have the same access to safe, legal prescriptions as civilian women.

Increased access to emergency contraception will help meet the needs of those military women who are sexual assault survivors. A 2003 study found that 30 percent of female U.S. military veterans report having been raped, or suffered a rape attempt, during their military service. There were 2,374 cases of sexual assault involving service members reported to military criminal investigators in 2005 - a 40 percent increase from 2004. Having survived a sexual assault, a military woman must have every resource available to meet her medical needs, including access to emergency contraception to enable her to prevent a pregnancy resulting from rape.

At a time when we ask so much of our military women, it is crucial that we do everything we can to protect them. The Michaud/Ryan Amendment is a commonsense measure that will help prevent unintended pregnancy and we ask your help in urging Congress to support it.

Ok, one point and briefly: We're talking about the right of women who've volunteered to put their lives on the line for this country to not have to get pregnant if they face contraceptive failure or if they're raped. So for love of Pete, make this phone call.

Update 11:40 ET (Post bumped up from last night): This amendment still hasn't been voted on. Please do make the call to the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask your representative to support the Michaud (D - ME)/Ryan (D - OH) amendment to the DoD authorization bill.

Update: Rep. Tim Ryan is, in fact, a Democrat.

Posted by natasha at May 17, 2007 08:46 AM | Women | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |