After passing through both branches of the state government, the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jim Doyle. This law will require emergency room personnel to give information about emergency contraception to all victims of sexual assault, and dispense it if desired. Emergency contraception greatly reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy, thereby reducing the need for abortion. It is legal, safe, and available for over the counter purchase for women over 18. However, in a survey from 2002, it was found that less than 1/3 of Wisconsin hospitals had this contraception stocked.
In 2002, a survey found that 300,000 women were raped each year, resulting in 25,000 unwanted pregnancies. 16,000 of these unintended pregnancies ended in abortion. With the effectiveness of emergency contraception, 22,000 (88%) of the pregnancies and the resulting abortions could be prevented if all sexual assault survivors used emergency contraception.
Though it took women’s health groups and pro-choice politicians five years to find the necessary support for the bill, it seems that many communities have long supported this legislation. The American Medical Association advocates provision of information and access to emergency contraception to rape victims. A bi-partisan survey of Wisconsin voters in 2004 showed that 82% of voters were in support of guaranteeing emergncy contraception access to rape and incest victims. This session, a bi-partisan effort in both the state Assembly and Senate has ensured that this bill will become law. As a result, the views of both the medical community and Wisconsin citizens will finally be represented by state law.