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Air Force Times: Bill requires emergency birth control access

Emergency contraceptives would be made available at all military hospitals and clinics under bipartisan Senate legislation sponsored by Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act would add emergency contraceptives to the core list of medications that must be stocked by every military health care facility.

Emergency contraceptives would be made available at all military hospitals and clinics under bipartisan Senate legislation sponsored by Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act would add emergency contraceptives to the core list of medications that must be stocked by every military health care facility.

Emergency contraceptives, including what are commonly called “morning-after pills,” are not required to be stocked on military bases but are part of the pharmacy stock at some locations.

A statement issued by Franken’s office says emergency contraception is “widely available” at private-sector pharmacies throughout the U.S. but “is not always available to servicewomen … particularly those serving overseas.”

The bill also would mandate that patients not be required to get prior approval to receive emergency contraceptives.

The issue could become part of the battle over reproductive rights that has been going on for years.

The bill Franken is sponsoring with Snowe is similar to legislation sponsored by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The new bill was referred to that committee for consideration. No action is likely to occur until later this year, when the panel begins work on the 2011 defense authorization bill.

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