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Bill enshrining access to contraception advances in House

The committee amended the bill to ensure there is no right to contraception after implantation of the embryo.

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A bill to ensure Alabamians have the right to access contraception is moving forward in the House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved HB279 by Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, that citizens have a right to access contraceptives, and that health care providers have a right to distribute them.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, and after IVF treatments were affected in Alabama, there have been concerns voiced by some about whether a right to contraception could be affected in the future.

“Under existing law, there is no explicit recognition of the right to distribute and use contraceptives,” Daniels said.

The bill provides a course of action against laws that interfere with an individual’s right to use or obtain contraception.

The committee added language to the bill that the right to contraception exists only “prior to the implantation of the embryo.”

That provision should still allow for the most controversial contraception: “Plan B,” or the “morning-after pill.” The FDA states that Plan B can prevent pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall.

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Considering the Alabama Supreme Court just upheld Alabama law that life begins at conception, before implantation, using Plan B after conception could be considered use of an abortifacient drug.

However, research also suggests that Plan B only works by preventing conception and does not stop fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterine wall, despite the FDA descriptor.

Rep. Ben Robbins, R-Sylacauga, asked for clarification of whether the bill could force religious physicians to violate their beliefs.

“Let’s say you are a Catholic doctor who doesn’t believe in contraception,” asked Rep. Ben Robbins, R-Sylacauga. “Does the person have to provide contraception if the patient says, ‘I would like contraception?’”

Daniels replied that the bill does not issue a mandate to individual physicians.

Another bill moving through the House would replace comprehensive sex education with “sexual risk avoidance” education that more heavily emphasizes abstinence over contraception. The state is already required by law to put an emphasis on abstinence education.

According to the CDC, Alabama teens are less likely to use contraception than other teens throughout the nation, and Alabama has the fifth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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