The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act, which is to be introduced this week, would require hospitals and clinics to provide information about emergency contraception and offer it to rape victims.
Estimates are that 4.7 percent of women who are raped get pregnant. Nationwide, that's about 25,000 women a year; in Pennsylvania, it's about 830. A significant number of those pregnancies - 733 a year in this state - could be prevented if emergency contraception were offered to all rape victims. And, of course, many more thousands of rape victims would be relieved of the worry about becoming pregnant from a violent assault.
Emergency contraception - also known as the "morning- after pill" or Plan B - is a high dose of the medication found in standard birth-control pills. Taken within 120 hours of intercourse, it works to prevent fertilization of an ovum or implantation in a woman's womb.
It is not the abortion pill, RU-486. But politicians on the federal level who want to impose their religious beliefs on everyone have tried to block availability of the drug over the counter and even to rape victims. In its national guidelines on dealing with rape, for example, the U.S. Department of Justice excludes mention of emergency contraception.
So some states - including neighboring New Jersey - have acted to protect their citizens. Pennsylvania should join them.
Rape deprives victims of the choice to have sex. They must not be deprived of the choice of whether to use emergency contraception. *