Doctors, representatives of the National Organization for Women and the distributor of a do-it-yourself pregnancy test clashed at a legislative hearing today over the accuracy of the tests. At issue was a bill that would ban sale of the test kits without a physician's prescription.
Calling the "e.p.t." (for early pregnancy test) kits a "consumer ripoff," Del. Steven V. Sklar (D-Baltimore) quoted what he said were statistics from tests cited by the distributor, Warner/Chilcott Co., indicating a 20-to-25 percent rate of error. He called that rate "totally unacceptable."
Sklar said he wants the tests sold by prescription so a woman who suspects she is pregnatnt would be "put in contact" with a physician who could give her medical advice.
He noted the test has a 97 percent accuracy rate only when results are positive -- indicating pregnancy. But he cited a brochure and directions to the consumer that say the test should be repeated if results are negative the first time it is tried. He noted that the kits cost $8 to $10.
Linda Wright, who spoke in favor of the tests said it had accurately indicated that she was pregnant when her doctor told her in three separate conferences she was not. She said results from a pregnancy test performed in a medical laboratory had also shown she was not pregnant, when she was. She said the total cost to her for her visits to the doctor and for the laboratory tests was $88.
Dr. Donald Spangler, in obstetrician at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, said under the proposed legislation women who still want to take the do-it-yourself test, would be able to obtain one by simply calling up a physician and asking for a prescription.
Diana Madoni, a representative of the National Organization for Women said the do-it-yourself tests, which involve analysis of a urine specimen, are useful for women wh are anxious to learn of a possible pregnancy as soon as possible. She recommended that the House Environmental Matters Committee, hearing testimony on the bill, postpone action, since a nationwide study is underway to determine the accuracy of such tests.
The committee has not yet acted on the bill.