Easier access to Morning-After-Pill will not reduce unwanted pregnancy rate says expert

Press release by The
Iona Institute

access to Morning-After-Pill will not reduce unwanted pregnancy rate
says expert

easier access may lead to higher rates of STIs

February 18, 2011 AS REPORTED
this week, a new form of Emergency Birth Control (also known as the
‘Morning-After-Pill’) was approved by the Irish Medicines Board
and will be available without prescription in chemists.

In reaction to the news, Dr Catriona
Henchion, Medical Director of The Irish Family Planning Association,
told RTE: “I think it’s going to reduce unplanned pregnancies”.

From the point of view of social
policy, this is the main aim of making Emergency Birth Control (EBC)
more easily available.

However, there is no evidence to date
that making EBC more easily available reduces the rate of unplanned
pregnancy. Indeed, it may instead lead to an increase in the rate of
sexually transmitted infections, according to new research.

Speaking on behalf of The Iona
Institute, Professor David Paton of Nottingham University, said
today: “The claim that providing access to Emergency Birth Control
without prescription will lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies is
completely without foundation. Every single piece of peer-reviewed
research on this subject to date has found no evidence that easier
access to EBC leads to lower rates of unwanted pregnancies, abortions
or teenage pregnancies. This research is extensive, publicly
available and the conclusions are accepted by those in favour and
against the principle of EBC. Given this, it is hard to understand
why policy makers would make such ill-informed claims.”

Professor Paton continued: “Even more
worryingly, the most recent research suggests that easier access to
EBC may lead to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections.”

This claim is based on a new study by
Professor Paton and colleague Sourafel Girma published in the Journal
of Health Economics called ‘The impact of emergency birth control
on teen pregnancy and STIs’.

The Iona Institute urges policy-makers
to carefully consider whether EBC should be made so easily available
in the light of the fact that it does not reduce rates of unplanned
pregnancy and may increase rates of STIs.


Notes to Editors

  1. The Iona Institute is a
    pro-marriage organisation.

  2. Professor Paton holds the Chair of
    Industrial Economics at the Nottingham University Business School.
    His research interests include teenage pregnancy. He is a critic of
    New Labour’s policy of promoting contraception among teenagers. His
    research on the determinants of teenage pregnancy has been discussed
    in the House of Commons and House of Lords and has been the subject
    of considerable press, radio and TV coverage.

Contact details:

Professor David Paton: (Mob) 00 44 795

David Quinn: 087 982 9910