Accessibility of emergency contraceptive pill-related services for sexual assault survivors in South Carolina

The South Carolina Emergency Contraception (EC) Initiative, a project of New Morning Foundation in partnership with Advocates for Youth, is a three-year education campaign designed to increase access to EC among women aged 16 to 24. Recognizing the high rate of sexual assault among young women and the reported gaps in access to EC at hospitals, the Initiative asked Ibis to explore policies and practices regarding provision of EC-related services particularly for sexual assault survivors. We built on previous research, which highlighted the need for clarification of South Carolina’s law pertaining to EC, the role of rape crisis advocates and hospital staff in securing sexual assault survivors’ access to EC, and the need to develop strategies to educate various stakeholders. Our findings showed that EC-related policies and practices at hospitals which conduct rape kit exams are fairly consistent. Hospitals that do not conduct these exams, however, do not provide EC to sexual assault patients before transferring them to another facility. We also found that trainings about EC-related services were consistent for rape crisis agency staff and volunteers; however, there was variation among the ways hospitals informed their staff. Most hospital and rape crisis agency websites lacked information about EC-related services.