New Hampshire House Makes Morning After Pill More Available

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Hampshire House Makes Morning After Pill More Available

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 26, 2005

Concord, NH ( — The New Hampshire legislature has again approved a measure that would allow pharmacists to sell customers the morning after pill without a prescription. This time, however, the bill will not face a veto from the governor.

On Wednesday, the state House approved the bill on a 195-169 vote after it received backing from the state Senate. Unlike last year, when Governor Benson vetoed the measure, Gov. John Lynch has promised to sign the bill.

Some lawmakers tried to amend the legislation to limit access to the sometimes abortion drug to women above the age of 18. That effort failed on a 225-141 vote. Supporters of the amendment argued that teenagers should not be given access to the drug without parental involvement.

"Would you want your 12-, 13-, 14- or 15 year-old daughters getting emergency contraception as easily as they can buy Advil?" asked Salem Rep. David Bettencourt who introduced the age limit, according to an Associated Press report.

Other lawmakers said the Plan B pills would encourage teens to engage in risky sexual behavior and that studies have not shown the full effect of the drugs on teens.

Lych released a statement Wednesday saying he will sign the bill.

"I am pro-choice, and I also believe we must work together to reduce the need for abortions. Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to do that," he said in a statement Wednesday.

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.

New Hampshire’s Roman Catholic Bishop John McCormack has asked Catholics to urge their representatives to oppose the bill.

Six other states have allowed sales of the drug without visiting a doctor, which the FDA is considering nationwide. Vermont and Oregon are seeking to add themselves to the list of states.