by Steven Ertelt
July 7, 2005
Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Legislation approved by the state House on Wednesday would make Massachusetts the next state to allow pharmacists to sell the morning after pill over the counter. The drugs sometimes produce an abortion and there is no word on whether Gov. Mitt Romney will sign the bill.
The state House backed the proposal on a 135-17 vote to allow the Plan B pills to be dispensed without a doctor’s visit and prescription.
The legislation also mandates that hospitals provide the drugs to rape victims but it differs from a Senate version in that it exempts private hospitals, such as Catholic health facilities that would object to being required to distribute the drugs.
Governor Mitt Romney, who has presidential ambitions and has recently hinted he has become pro-life on abortion, has not said whether he will sign the bill into law.
NARAL Massachusetts director Melissa Kogut encouraged him to do so.
"It’s a great, strong vote on the bill," she said. "We knew there was strong support in the House, and they demonstrated their support for the bill today."
Spokeswoman Julie Teer told the Associated Press the governor will need to review the legislation.
"During his 2002 campaign, Gov. Romney said he would not change the abortion laws of the Commonwealth. Therefore, when the governor receives the emergency contraception legislation, he will review it carefully and measure whether or not it changes the status quo," she said.
Before the bill heads to Romney, the Senate must decide whether to accept the House changes allowing the opt-out clause or send the bill to a conference committee to work out compromise language.
In a previous vote, the Senate defeated an attempt to allow Catholic and other hospitals to not be forced to distribute the drugs.
Seven other states have approved sales of the morning after pill over the counter. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington allow the morning after pill to be purchased without a prescription.
Canada has also made the sometimes abortion drug Plan B available over the counter without a prescription and Vermont and Oregon are considering similar proposals.