‘Guidelines needed’ for morning-after pill
Easier access to the morning-after pill will empower women, but the Centre Against Abuse said guidelines are needed to ensure it is used responsibly.
The charity, which supports adult victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and advocates for healthy relationships, spoke to The Royal Gazette after health minister Kim Wilson announced the emergency contraception would be made available in pharmacies.
CAA executive director Laurie Shiell-Smith said: “We are pleased that it is being made available over the counter as this is another way to empower women.
“If a woman is raped, and chooses not to involve the Sexual Assault Response Team or anyone else, and she has a concern that she is pregnant by her rapist, she can obtain the morning-after pill on her own accord.”
But she added that “while we are pleased that women will have this opportunity, we do want guidelines to be put in place to ensure the safety of the user, and that it is being used responsibly”. Ms Shiell-Smith said these guidelines should include following up with a pregnancy test two to three weeks late, an STD check and confirmation that the person is an adult and that the purchased product is for them and not anyone else, particularly not a minor.
She added: “Our concerns also include monitoring of the number of times a person purchases the product and some form of follow up for repeat users.” Ms Shiell-Smith said the side effect of the medication should also be made “very clear” to users before it is given out.
Ms Wilson told the House of Assembly on Friday that making the drug available over the counter brings Bermuda into line with other jurisdictions such as the US, Canada and the UK. She added: “The substance is available only through a prescription, which limits women's access to emergency birth control.”