Fighting Our Wars Without Reproductive Choice

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Nancy Northup writes on RH Reality Check about a group of women who, despite the court's decision overturning the political rules about emergency contraception, still don't have Plan B access: female soldiers.

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She writes:

[Emergency contraception is] excluded from the list of what military facilities, including the primary stores where families shop, are required to stock. That can be particularly challenging for women and families who are based overseas and rely solely on those facilities to buy over-the-counter drugs. More than 160,500 American female soldiers have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East since the war began in 2003. According to a 2007 Department of Defense Report, there were 2,688 reported sexual assaults involving military personnel in 2007.

So while some pharmacies might choose to stock emergency contraception, others might not — and who knows who exactly is making those decisions about whether women have access to it.

Of course, like the now-overturned FDA decision on whether 17-year-olds should have access to it and requiring that it be held behind the counter to make one show identification to "prove your age" (which was totally not every remotely done to embarrass consumers or to allow anti-reproductive rights pharmacists to exercise their conscience clause or humiliate women), there's a political reason for this, too.

In 2002, the Department of Defense, relying on its technical experts, initially approved emergency contraception for its Basic Care Formulary, which would have required that it be stocked at all military treatment facilities. That approval was quickly rescinded when it reached the radar of political appointees.

This while women in the military were facing increasing levels of sexual assault, increasing deployments abroad where their only access to emergency contraception would be from the base pharmacy, and still had no option to get treatment for sexual assault without submitting to the military justice processes.

Northup points out that changing this doesn't require an act of Congress — just an act of the Administration. Not that it would be a terrible thing to contact either one of those.

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EC Still Inaccessible for Military Women [RH Reality Check]

DISCUSSION

By
JerseyGrrrl

Megan, you make an excellent point about this being particularly worrisome with the high rate of sexual assault. We need to be offering these women more physical and emotional support, and that includes access to emergency BC. I wonder if there is reasonable access to pregnancy tests?

I agree that this reads like an obvious effort to "choose" for a woman. If you don't have access to emergency BC and you have to wait to get it, god forbid it becomes so late in the pregnancy that your "choice" is made for you. I can't imagine they have widespread access to safe abortion services on distant bases. Hell, women barely have that in Jersey.

We've got to do better. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.