Aug. 3, 2005 – New York Governor George Pataki threatened to veto a bipartisan bill allowing for the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception, unless it contains several restrictions, according to news accounts.
Monday, The New York Times reported that Pataki would veto the measure, the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act (A 116), allowing for the non-prescription dispensing of emergency contraception in very limited circumstances. The bill has already passed both houses of the state legislature and is awaiting a final vote.
Though the law would not extend total access to the "morning after pill" to state residents, reproductive rights organizations have nonetheless championed the measure as pioneering. NARAL Pro-Choice New York, a state affiliate of the national pro-choice advocacy group, is calling for a demonstration in support of the legislation Thursday.
According to the New York Daily News, the governor is seeking several extra restrictions to access, including a prohibition on males purchasing the medication, a limit to the number of purchases women may make and a prohibition on selling the contraceptive over the counter to females younger than 16.
Pro-choice groups and other emergency contraception advocates cite numerous scientific and government studies demonstrating that the medication is safe when used properly and would result in hundreds of thousands fewer unwanted pregnancies and abortions in any given year.
Often referred to as the "morning after pill," emergency contraceptives contain doses of a hormone that can prevent pregnancy if taken soon after unprotected intercourse. Reproductive rights groups have fought to loosen restrictions on access to the drug, pointing out that emergency contraceptives are most affective the sooner they are taken.
According to the state comptrollerâ€™s office, "Giving women in New York State easier access to emergency contraception pills would result in 122,000 fewer unintended pregnancies and 82,000 fewer abortions every year and as a result cut health care spending in New York State by $452 million annually."
The legislature is expected to send the bill to Pataki on Thursday.