Emergency Contraception Provision in Hospital Emergency Rooms in the United States

Teresa Harrison, Ibis Reproductive Health

To investigate women's access to hormonal emergency contraception (EC), we surveyed Catholic (n=597) and non-Catholic (n=615) hospital emergency rooms. Trained female interviewers telephoned hospitals during weekend hours, when most clinics and physicians' offices are closed. We found that 42% of non-Catholic hospital staff and 55% of staff in Catholic emergency rooms said they do not dispense EC, regardless of circumstance. Twenty-three percent of Catholic hospital respondents report that they provide EC to victims of sexual assault compared to only 17% of non-Catholic hospital respondents. Among staff not dispensing EC, about half offered callers a valid referral, but most of them were dead ends. Training emergency room staff about EC, requiring hospitals to provide it, encouraging advance prescriptions of EC and offering EC without a prescription could help increase access to this therapy for women.

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Presented in Session 16: Contraception