Emergency Contraception Promotion on Campus

Published on March 4th, 2020

Memorandum of Opposition

S.5089 (Parker) / A.4831 Englebright
Re: Emergency Contraception

The above-referenced bill would require every public college and university in New York State to provide information to promote the use of “emergency contraception” (EC) drugs by students.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation.

Since the federal Food & Drug Administration has approved distribution of EC over-the-counter in drugstores, and the Medicaid program and health insurers in New York State are required to cover the costs, there is now virtually unlimited access to these drugs.

We are concerned that promoting its use on college campuses through posters and informational materials that proclaim its safety may encourage sexual risk-taking by students who could come to rely on it as their primary means of birth control. The federal Food and Drug Administration warns that EC is not designed for routine use as a contraceptive. Yet there is evidence demonstrating that reliance on EC only makes women more inclined to have unprotected sex as they regard the morning-after pill as their safety net.  It remains unknown what high doses of the drugs may do to a woman’s future fertility or what connection they may have to cancer or other diseases. In addition, research has shown that these pills do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (see Raymond, Trussell and Polis, Obstetrics & Gynecology 2007; 109:181-188).

Are college health centers prepared to monitor how often students are using EC? Will health center staff be trained to recognize adverse reactions to the drugs? It is incumbent upon state lawmakers to consider both the potential risks to students and the potential liability of the public university system.

An additional concern we hold is that EC can work in several different ways, depending when they are ingested during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The pills can act to inhibit or delay ovulation, and thus prevent conception. But they can also act to prevent an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, thereby destroying a developing human embryo. This is early abortion, and it is morally abhorrent to many New Yorkers. Because this legislation requires the promotion of these pills on campuses, with specific language stating that they “cannot and do not cause abortion,” it is misleading at best and could deny students truly informed consent.

We therefore believe this legislation is unnecessary and ill-advised, and we urge that it be defeated.