- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

CARMICHAEL, Calif. (AP) Gov. Gray Davis has ordered HMOs to pay for women's "morning-after" contraceptives, making California the first state in the nation to cover the pills.
"A woman's right to choose must never be held up by red tape," Mr. Davis said yesterday. The Democrat has been trumpeting his pro-choice stance on abortion in his re-election fight against Republican nominee Bill Simon.
The Simon campaign wouldn't say whether he supports more access to emergency contraceptives, which if taken within 72 hours of intercourse, can prevent fertilization. Pro-life activists call the pill an abortifacient.
"There are much more important topics," said Bob Taylor, a spokesman for Mr. Simon, who is pro-life.
Under Mr. Davis' directive, HMOs are required to cover the costs of the pill through participating pharmacists within the HMO's network or, in emergency situations, from pharmacists who do not have a contract with their HMO.
"No other state has actively told their [health] plans they must include emergency contraception," said Kathy Kneer, president and director of the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. "They are the first to make sure everyone is in compliance with the law."
Nationwide, Planned Parenthood said use about 100 Planned Parenthood clinics in California filled 24,495 prescriptions for the pills in 2000, up from 3,419 in 1998.
Concerned Women for America criticized Mr. Davis' decision in a statement yesterday as an "abuse of power" that forces "his immoral beliefs on Californians who hold human life sacred."
"Choosing to sponsor human extermination may be Mr. Davis's choice, but forcing Californians to sponsor his immoral agenda is an abuse of power," said Cindy Moles, the group's San Diego area director. Pro-life citizens now "have no choice but to sponsor abortion when they join an HMO. This is a violation of our right of conscience."


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