The Associated Press reports that the New York Legislature passed a new bill on Monday that would allow pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill to women without a prescription. Despite the fact that Republican Gov. George Pataki supports abortion rights, he vetoed an earlier version of the bill last year. His chief concern, he said, was that without age limits, easy access to emergency contraception would encourage promiscuous sex among young people. Many pro-choice advocates criticized the veto as pandering to the GOP's right wing because Pataki may be considering a 2008 presidential bid.
The new bill, the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act, addresses nearly all of Pataki's initial concerns. The AP reports that "the amended legislation would allow pharmacists to dispense only a single dose at a time and only to women. Information about sexually transmitted diseases would also be made available and prescriptions could only be dispensed within the same county as the patient's residence. It does not set age limits." The bill now goes to the governor's desk for review, and advocates of the legislation hope that Pataki will be satisfied with the substantial compromises and sign it into law.
However, Pataki spokesman Kevin Quinn told the AP that "we haven't fully reviewed the legislation, but our understanding is that the Assembly Majority has failed to address the most significant flaw in its bill -- the absence of appropriate protections for young, adolescent women."
This is a ridiculous and frustrating complaint, as it was the first time around. New York state does not require parental notification for abortion, so the suggestion that a woman would need permission to prevent pregnancy makes no sense. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "Regardless of age, people should have a choice." Amen to that.