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The morning-after pill: Is the backlash deserved?

Posted in: Women's Health 23 Oct, 2012

Although access to emergency contraceptive treatment has widened considerably over the last few years, the controversy surrounding the medication continues. There are those who accept that women have the right to use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy if their original method of contraception has failed, but there are others who believe that promiscuity will increase as a result of such treatment. There are also pro-life organisations who liken this particular contraceptive to the act of abortion. The use of emergency contraception, in particular the morning-after pill, continues to provoke strong reactions. The Daily Mail has done little to diminish the latter beliefs, with its recent article on hormonal emergency contraceptive pill, ellaOne. I would argue that their piece places too heavy a focus on the cons of this pill rather than the pros.

A new emergency contraceptive

ellaOne is a relatively new emergency contraceptive pill. Unlike Levonelle, the UK's other emergency contraceptive in the form of a pill, which can be taken up to three days (72 hours) after having unprotected sex, ellaOne can be taken up to five days (120 hours) after. In addition, the success rate of ellaOne is 98%, while Levonelle's efficacy lessens the longer after unprotected sex it is taken. EllaOne's five day effectiveness is where the debate lies. According to the Daily Mail, the fact that ellaOne can be taken so long after unprotected sex is ‘an early form of abortion.’

The facts

First and foremost, ellaOne works to stop the process of ovulation. It also thickens cervical mucus and makes the uterine wall thinner. ellaOne box” title= It works by altering the progestogen levels in the body, delaying an egg from being released, thus preventing possible fertilisation. Having higher levels of progestogen than the regular contraceptive pill is the reason that it cannot be used in the same way. However, it effectively works like the contraceptive pill, preventing the process of ovulationn and therefore, preventing possible pregnancy. By saying that the morning-after pill elleOne is an abortion pill is effectively saying that taking the regular contraceptive pill is an act of abortion. Not only is this a complete misrepresentation of contraceptive treatments, but it also fails to take into account the benefits and freedom that contraception has given to women worldwide.

The abortion pill

Although I have argued that ellaOne is not an abortion pill, there is currently an abortion pill that is available in the UK, called mifepristone. This pill ends pregnancy by blocking the hormone progesterone, thus the lining of the wall breaks down and the pregnancy cannot continue. This pill can terminate pregnancies of up to 63 days gestation. This is then followed by misoprostol, a medicine, which makes the womb contract, causing bleeding and cramping not too dissimilar to a miscarriage. It can only be prescribed and used within the presence of a doctor. However, the decision to take this pill should not be taking lightly and usually a woman will have to have an in-depth consultation and medical assessment with a medical specialist to decide if this is what she really wants. Unlike emergency contraception like ellaOne, the abortion pill cannot be purchased safely and legally online.

Being responsible

Another argument taken in the article was that the availability of ellaOne would promote a rise in women having unsafe sex and increase promiscuity amongst women. The perception being that all women who take emergency contraceptives such as ellaOne are irresponsible. Yes, the emergency contraceptive pill is used by women who have had unprotected sex. But the article fails to address that many women rely on a pill such as this when original methods of contraception, such as condom (due to slip or tear) has failed. Instead the article effectively puts all women in one category, as irresponsible, promiscuous individuals with little regard to safe sex. It also places all contraceptive responsibility on women, and fails to acknowledge that such responsibility should also be shared by men.

Obtaining ellaOne

It is important to note that ellaOne cannot be used as a regular method of contraception, and if repeatedly used can disrupt your natural menstrual cycle. However, to prevent unplanned pregnancy, emergency contraceptives such as ellaOne have proven to be beneficial for many women who have had unprotected sex, or when their normal method of contraception has failed. Emergency contraception should not be taken lightly and reputable online health clinics such as euroClinix work with qualified doctors and pharmacies to ensure that such medication is safe and suitable for you. We also provide a quick and discreet delivery service to ensure full confidentiality.

To find out more about ellaOne, you can visit our ellaOne page, which will provide more information on this emergency contraceptive.

If you would like to know more about the abortion pill, you may wish to contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), a registered charity and non-profit organisation that offers reproductive health services and advice.

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