Senate OKs emergency contraceptives bill

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Women would be allowed to buy emergency contraception without a prescription under a measure approved Tuesday by the Oregon Senate.

The bill would allow specially trained pharmacists to offer the “morning after” pill, which is a large dose of birth control hormones that can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

If the measure becomes a law, Oregon would join six other states that allow pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives without the usual doctor’s prescription.

Backers said the bill would help prevent abortions and unintended pregnancies by making access to the drug easier, particularly on weekends when it’s often difficult to get a doctor’s prescription.

Sen. Alan Bates, an Ashland Democrat and physician, said the bill involves emergency contraception, not a drug like RU-486 that is used to abort a pregnancy up to six weeks after fertilization.

“If you are opposed to abortion, you should vote for this bill,” Bates said.

Others said that under the bill pharmacists who have moral or religious objections would not be required to dispense emergency contraceptives.

The measure was sent to the House on a 22-6 vote over the objections of Sen. Charles Starr, who said it would promote promiscuity and lead to a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

“It sets a dangerous precedent,” the Hillsboro Republican said.