Emergency Contraception and the Failure of Policy Success
This chapter focuses on state laws that require hospitals to provide information about or dispense emergency contraception (EC) to rape victims in emergency rooms (ER). These laws have an obvious and ostensibly popular intent: to help rape victims avoid an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy in the wake of a sexual assault. However, political claims were framed without building in possible “hooks” for public interest litigation, and without anticipating problems with implementation. The result is that most laws still leave significant gaps in access. The lack of a public interest bar means there are few legal resources to confront these problems, and many rape crisis centers (RCCs) are in such a tenuous position—with little political or other institutional support—that they are unfamiliar with, fear, and shun litigation or community organizing as tools for maintaining, enforcing, or expanding the rights of rape victims. The result is that hospitals can openly flout EC in the ER laws without fear of accountability.
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