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December 6, 2012

Access to Emergency Contraception Matters for LGBT Youth

This week, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) joins our allies in the reproductive justice movement urging Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to remove harmful restrictions on emergency contraception (EC).  The LGBT community – especially our young people – need access to emergency contraception without political roadblocks. Please lend your voice to this campaign!

In the United States, the sale of non-prescription emergency contraception (EC) to females under 17 years old is prohibited.  In order to purchase EC, a young woman must be 17 years old, and a young man must be 18 years old. In addition, anyone purchasing EC must have a government-issued ID, which creates a significant burden for many people, including those in the transgender community (as our colleagues at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health have rightly pointed out), people of color, low-income people, and undocumented people, all of whom are less likely to have

Because EC is a very time-sensitive medication, these restrictions are a major roadblock for people trying to prevent an unintended pregnancy.  This interference with reproductive health, which is largely political, is more than a decade old, and it’s time for it to end.

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics took an important step forward on this important issue by recommending that EC be more widely available to young people.  In fact, the Academy recommended physicians write advance prescriptions for EC to their adolescent female patients, so that they could easily obtain EC if they need it in the future.

It is crucial for the LGBT community that EC be sold over the counter, without age restriction or ID requirements.  Access to EC is especially important for LGBT youth for reasons that Ruthann Robson, CUNY law professor, points out in this op-ed:

“[Q]ueer youth are especially vulnerable. They may have engaged in heterosexual sex for a variety of reasons, including coercion, intimidation, camouflage, sexual abuse, or survival/commercial sex. They may also be less likely to use birth control and several studies have documented that lesbian youth are two to ten times more likely to become pregnant than their heterosexual counterparts . . .”

Access to EC is an LGBT issue! Please join the reproductive justice movement in calling upon Secretary Sebelius  to revisit the evidence on the sale of emergency contraception and remove the harmful restrictions!

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