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Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2004 Nov-Dec;49(6):269-73.

Under-use of emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.



Approximately 700,000 women in the reproductive age group are victims of sexual assault in the United States per year. Between 1% and 5% of sexual assaults result in pregnancy, for a total of 32,000 pregnancies per year. Of these, 14,000 are aborted because of incest or rape.


To determine the percent of emergency departments in the state of Pennsylvania offering routine counseling and provision of emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault. Secondary objectives were to compare provision practices for Catholic versus non-Catholic hospitals, and to compare these practices with other services, such as sexually transmitted disease prophylaxis and sexual assault counseling.


A 15-item survey instrument was designed to determine the volume of sexual assault patients seen per year, routinely offered services, and emergency contraception protocols. Three telephone callers administered surveys, using a pre-designed script for each call.


Of the 165 eligible hospitals, 125 (76%) replied. Less than half (42%) of all hospitals routinely offer emergency contraception counseling, and 16% of the hospitals did not offer any counseling regarding emergency contraception.


Provision of emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault is inconsistent and insufficient. It is important that sexual assault patients not be further victimized by a system that fails to meet their needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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