MAPConspiracy Press Release 4/21/04
WOMEN TO COMMIT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
AT MARCH FOR WOMEN’S LIVES IN DC APRIL 25TH 2004
NOW NY State Reproductive Rights Task Force
Gainesville (Fla.) Area NOW
University of Florida Campus NOW
Redstockings Allies and Veterans
Gainesville (Fla.) Women’s Liberation
Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force
WHEN: 11:30 a.m., at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.
WHERE: On the Mall, at Jefferson Drive SW and 12th Street SW
Metro, take the Orange or Blue line to the Smithsonian (Mall exit) stop.
If this Metro stop is closed, take the Orange or Blue line to L'Enfant Plaza, and walk to the Mall.
In more than 38 countries, women can walk into a store and get the Morning-After Pill without a prescription— yet women in THIS country have to jump through hoops to get it. Continuing in the tradition of women like Margaret Sanger, who passed out information about birth control when it was illegal to do so, women will break the law by giving out the Morning-After Pill in front of the public and press on April 25th. We hope this act of civil disobedience will pressure acting FDA Commissioner, Lester Crawford, to listen to the medical experts and to women, who are the real experts on their lives, when we say make the Morning-After Pill over-the-counter.
To show the FDA how important it is to change the status of the Morning-After Pill, more than 600 women all over the country have signed a pledge to commit civil disobedience by giving their friends the Morning-After Pill any time they need it. Among the signers are Kim Gandy (president of the National Organization for Women), Patricia Ireland (former NOW president), Byllye Avery (founder of the National Black Women's Health Project), and Eleanor Smeal (founder of Feminist Majority). The pledge has been sent to the FDA with hundreds of signatures.
Last December, two FDA advisory panels overwhelmingly recommended (23-to-4) that the Morning-After Pill be made over-the-counter, but on Feb. 20, former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan stalled the decision. Under the guise of concern for young women’s health, the FDA has bowed to political pressure from conservatives who don’t want women of any age having easy, affordable access to birth control.
On Dec. 8, 42 members of Congress sent a letter to the FDA urging them to prevent young women from having over-the-counter access to the Morning-After Pill. They argue that greater access to the Morning-After Pill will promote unsafe sex and increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. This is false, as is proved by recent studies, which show that teenagers with access to the Morning-After Pill have unprotected sex at the same rate as those without access. And while women know from their experiences that it is often difficult to get men to wear condoms, the solution is not to deny young women access to birth control. If Republicans were really concerned with safe sex, they wouldn’t promote abstinence-only education in schools, and would instead adopt a program aimed at getting young men to take equal responsibility for sex and pregnancy-prevention. If these 42 members of congress were truly concerned about young women’s health, they would recognize a woman’s right to decide that she doesn’t want to be pregnant— without needing the “consent” of her parent or doctor.
We oppose the many tactics being used by anti-birth control extremists to prevent easier access to the Morning-After Pill. We oppose age restrictions, which would effectively render it a behind-the-counter drug -- which means women would have to plead and bargain with pharmacists, who could still refuse to give it to them. As feminists have long said -- If you’re old enough to get pregnant, you’re old enough to decide that you don’t want to be pregnant.
We will not be appeased by insignificant, state-by-state reforms that give pharmacists the ability to prescribe the Morning-After Pill. This is medically unnecessary, and still poses serious obstacles to women’s access. State-by-state reforms are unnecessary when the FDA has the power to make MAP over-the-counter for all women in America.
Since the FDA’s delay on Feb. 20, nearly half a million women have had unintended pregnancies that could have been prevented. New York Congresswoman, Carolyn Maloney said, "It's a sad pattern that the Administration is repeating. Ignoring safe, medically sound science and good public health to appease their right-wing constituency is disturbing, but it's not surprising."Controlling when and if women have children is central to their freedom and self-determination— we will not stand while the FDA, our legislators, and the President hold women hostage by restricting the tools they need to determine the course of their lives. We demand unrestricted, over-the-counter access to the Morning-After Pill for all women and girls, NOW!!