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Mar-03-2008 13:37printcomments

Oregon Implements New Emergency Contraception Law for Sexual Assault Victims

Other states that have enacted similar laws are California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.

women walking shadow
Women who are victims of sexual assault now have state mandated options when it comes to emergency contraception.

(SALEM, Ore.) - State public health officials have filed administrative rules to implement a new law that requires hospitals to offer emergency contraception to female victims of sexual assault.

The law, passed as HB 2700 by the 2007 Legislature, makes Oregon one of just nine states nationwide to have such a requirement. It became effective Jan. 1 and requires hospitals to inform female sexual assault victims about emergency contraception, the option of receiving it, and to provide it to the victim if she asks for it.

In addition to filing administrative rules, the law required the Oregon Department of Human Services to develop educational materials about the new requirements and distribute them to all emergency departments in the state. A letter and materials were sent out in January.

"We want women to be aware that emergency contraception is available to all sexual assault victims," said Katherine Bradley, Ph.D., administrator of family health programs in DHS. "It is a safe, effective treatment option and the sooner it is taken, the better it works."

Emergency contraception pills have the same hormone used in birth control pills and reduce the likelihood of pregnancy by 81 to 90 percent when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The pills may work up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.

Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology indicate that emergency contraception does not cause abortion. It does not work if a woman is already pregnant and will not harm an existing pregnancy.

Other states that have enacted similar laws are California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.

Information about the law, along with downloadable materials, can be found on the Web at: oregon.gov/DHS/ph/fp/ec/.

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