Governor Owens' letter regarding veto of HB 1212, Emergency Contraception bill

April 13, 2006

The Honorable Colorado House of Representatives
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Second Regular Session
State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am filing with the Secretary of State House Bill 06-1212, "Concerning Authority of a Pharmacist Regarding Emergency Contraception." I vetoed this bill as of 1:44 p.m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.

House Bill 1212 would allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception without a physician's prescription. I believe this strays radically from the accepted norms of medicine and is not in the best interests of Coloradans. I agree with Governor George Pataki of New York who vetoed a similar bill, stating that such a policy "represents a departure from the tradition and accepted standards" of how prescription drugs are dispensed.

This bill would also allow minors to obtain emergency contraception without the involvement of a physician, parent or guardian. I believe it is irresponsible to allow minors to obtain emergency contraception without the counsel and guidance that could be provided by a doctor. In contrast, consider that daily birth control pills can only be dispensed with a doctor's prescription. However, if House Bill 1212 became law, a 13-year-old girl could use emergency contraception as a form of regular birth control without a doctor's consultation.

I am also concerned that H.B.1212 does not adequately safeguard the right of pharmacists to refuse to dispense the drug for any reason. While proponents of this bill argue that it would not require pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception, only allow them to do so, they opposed amendments prohibiting employers from terminating or disciplining a pharmacist for refusing to dispense emergency contraception.

It is important to point out that regardless of this veto, access to emergency contraception will continue to be commonly and widely available with a physician's prescription.

Accordingly, I have vetoed this bill.

Sincerely,

Bill Owens