(KCPW News) Hospitals and urgent care centers around the state may soon be required to inform victims of sexual assault about emergency contraceptives available to them, after a bill was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee yesterday. Four years ago, only 60 percent of hospitals gave out this information, but Dave Gessell with the Utah Hospital Association said that rate is now 90 percent.
"It's a simple issue of trust. Do you believe that through continued cooperation, effort, and education, which has seemed to work well when bringing us from 60 to 90 percent we can go the rest of the way. I'm not sure you are sending the right message to the hospitals who have been trying to do this the right way that, gee we haven't done a good job cause we are not at 100 percent so we are going to mandate this," Gessell said.
But committee members said that information on hospital participation is unreliable, and the only way to make sure victims are informed would be to mandate it. Bill sponsor Jackie Biskupski also clarified that emergency contraception only prevents a pregnancy from happening, and wouldn't cause an abortion if the woman were already pregnant. She said the bill would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
"Some of these sexual assault victims are not getting this information and are ending up pregnant and are making that horrific choice of having an abortion. If this bill stops even just one abortion, I think it's worth it," Biskupski said.
The bill passed unanimously and will be sent to the House floor for further debate.