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Catholic Leader Welcomes Ruling on Access to Emergency Contraception

April 5, 2013

“Today is an important day in the ongoing battle to ensure that all women have access to the reproductive health services they need,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “The ruling by Federal District Judge Edward Korman that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must remove the age restriction on emergency contraception (EC) will enable more women to access EC in a timely manner. This is a very positive step and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), should move quickly to make this a reality.

“Judge Korman’s decision stated that the HHS’s original ruling, which prevented women under the age of 16 from accessing EC over the counter—a ruling that was fully supported by President Obama—was ‘arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.’ We agree. EC is safe and it is an effective method of birth control that can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.

“Studies show that Catholics use and support access to EC at rates as high as or higher than the general population. A 2012 poll by a conservative Catholic group found that ‘nearly 17 percent of younger Catholic women (18-34) have used emergency contraception,’ a figure they stated was higher than the national average. A 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 3.9 percent of Catholic women had received counseling about EC in the previous year, a higher rate women of other religions and no religion (2.5-2.9 percent).

“A poll by Belden Russonello Strategists found that a strong majority of American Catholic women (78 percent) prefer that their hospital offer EC for rape victims, while more than half (57 percent) want their hospital to provide it in broader circumstances.

“It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration dug its heels in on this issue, but we are delighted that the court has acted as it has. We look forward to seeing this important decision implemented by the FDA and HHS as soon as possible. Women of all ages should have access to the reproductive healthcare they need without barriers. This is a step forward toward that goal and it is the right thing to do.”