A report has been released advising government to sell the morning-after pill and abortion pills in health retailers without consultation
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has stated in their ‘Better for women’ report that access to emergency contraceptive pills and abortion pills is currently too difficult for women in England.
The report asked for easy access to reliable information on women’s health and to contraception, abortion and fertility services. The RCOG highlighted that if current system remained unchanged, the rate of unplanned pregnancies, abortions and poor parent experiences will not decrease.
“Pregnancy should occur if and when women want to be pregnant,” the report further stated.
The Department of Health and Social Care released a report on the abortion statistics which read that there were 200,608 abortions in England and Wales in 2018. This is a four percent increase in comparison to the previous year and is the highest number record.
The RCOG explained the reason for the high amount of abortions and unwanted pregnancies was a consequence of how difficult it is for women to access contraception and abortion services.
In their report they released data showing that 37 percent of the 3,000 women they surveyed cannot access contraception services locally. Even 60 percent said they cannot access abortion services locally.
At the moment, women have to speak to their pharmacist first, in order to receive the emergency contraception pill. Women feel embarrassed to seek care because of the personal conversation that is necessary. Nearly a quarter confirmed that in the survey by the RCOG. The report demands that women should be able to receive treatment after speaking to their GP via online services such as FaceTime.
Another solution suggested by the RCOG is to sell the pill off the shelf as is done with preventative contraception and pregnancy tests.
In Scotland and Wales, the emergency contraception is available for free and without prescription. In England, the price and availability depend on the service that provides the emergency contraceptive pill. This could be at contraception clinics, some pharmacies, most GP surgeries and some hospital emergency departments. Each facility itself has the ability to determine what they charge for the morning after pill and the opening hours of the facility.
To prevent women from having to research the location and accessibility of the facility needed, the RCOG demanded one-stop women’s health clinics with opening hours on evenings and during the weekends and holidays.
Critics however feared that this might lead to misuse of the medicine. People could take the morning-after pill instead of preventative measurements.
The pill contains either luteinizing hormones or the substance ulipristal acetate in order to delay or avoid ovulation in the current menstrual cycle. The medicine has great affects to the female body and can therefore lead to major side effects such as uterine pain and bleeding.
Words by Juliane Sonntag | Pictures by Juliane Sonntag