Vermont Bill Would Allow Morning After Pill Over the Counter

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Vermont Bill Would Allow Morning After Pill Over the Counter

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 25, 2005

Montpelier, VT ( — The Vermont state legislature is considering a bill that would add the state to list of those which allow sales of the morning after pill over the counter and without a doctor’s visit. Six other states have made the change, which the FDA is considering nationwide.

A House committee Tuesday approved a bill that would let customers purchase the Plan B drug, which can sometimes cause an abortion, directly from pharmacists.

Members of the House Human Services Committee voted in favor of the measure 8-2. The bill now heads to the House floor, where it is expected to be approved.

Rep. Katherine Niquette, a Republican, voted against the bill after talking with her 16 year-old daughter, who told her that teenagers would likely get the drugs without telling their parents.

"I don’t think a pharmacist will have the time to properly counsel the girls," Niquette said, according to a Times Argus report. "This is one more thing where an adult is taken out of having a conversation with a teenager, and I don’t support that."

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England backs the measure.

"We are very satisfied with the bill and look forward to approval by the House," Jessica Oski, a spokeswoman, told the Vermont Press Bureau.

The Vermont Catholic Conference opposes the legislation.

Backers of the bill claim the morning after pill would reduce the number of abortions and decrease teenage pregnancies.

However, a recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, that found increased access to the "morning after" pill did not lower pregnancy rates because many women did not use the pills.

Wendy Wright, of Concerned Women for America, said the study showed "easy access to the drug increases sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates," a situation she called "alarming."

"Furthermore, studies show that the abortion rate is unaffected, and in some cases has increased," she explained.

"Proponents have repeatedly claimed that making the drug available without a prescription would reduce abortion numbers by as many as half; now their own study debunks that claim," Cathy Cleaver Ruse, speaking for the nation’s Catholic bishops, added.

Though the House is set to vote for the bill soon, the Senate may not have time to bring it up before the legislature adjourns next month. That would kill the bill for now, but House lawmakers say they hope the Democrat-controlled Senate will review it quickly in 2006.

Gov. James Douglas has said he would sign the measure into law.