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Emergency contraception (a.k.a. EC, ECP, "Morning After" Pill)

Developments during the year 2000

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Developments during 2000:

bullet 2000-JAN-17: Britain: Pharmacies in the Greater Manchester area have started a pilot plan to dispense free "morning-after" pills without a prescriptions. The pharmacist will ask a series of "thorough and complex questions." If they are not satisfied with the answers, they will refer the woman to her physician. Valerie Riches, director of Family and Youth Concern, said: "The signal it's sending out is that it's perfectly okay to go out and have sex anytime you like, and the state will pick up the pieces." Tim Wyatt is a spokesperson for the Manchester, Trafford and Salford Health Action Zone -- the group that is organizing the project. He disagreed, saying:

"It can't be used as a lazy form of contraception. It's not a substitute. It's just a deeply practical and key service for those women who face an emergency...We're being absolutely clear on this. It's not an abortive. It is a contraceptive. It does not abort a pregnancy, it prevents one." 1

bullet 2000-JUN-8: Manitoba, Canada: The Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association voted at their annual meeting to allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication if they object to the use of the drug on moral grounds. In addition, pharmacists will be not required to refer a woman to another pharmacy. Although some state pharmaceutical associations have passed similar regulations in the U.S., this is believed to be the first instance in Canada. Emergency contraception is the only medication that is expected to be affected.
bullet 2000-JUL-1: France: France's highest administrative court vetoed the Education Ministry's plan to distribute the "morning after" pill through the public school system. The rationale was to reduce the rate of teenage unwanted pregnancies. The court decided that it was illegal for school nurses to distribute the pill without a prescription. The Roman Catholic church had criticized the plan because they felt it would incite pupils to become sexually active earlier.
bullet 2000-JUL-6: USA: Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) has sponsored an amendment to the annual funding bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services and the Education departments of the federal government. It would allegedly prohibit the distribution of EC. It would also prohibit distribution of RU-486 when it becomes otherwise available. Stephanie Mollins, spokesperson for the Family Research Council, said: "I don't even think parents would believe it if they found out that, indeed, their children can receive chemical abortions in their school." The first hurdle that the amendment must pass is the review by the conference committee which is led by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). Senator Specter has a  pro-choice voting record. 
bullet 2000-OCT-5: France: According to CWNews, the French National Assembly passed legislation which would permit underage women to receive the "morning after pill" in pharmacies or from school nurses without a prescription. The bill will be debated in the Senate later in October. 
bullet 2000-OCT-5: Philippines: According to CWNews: The country's Department of Health has recently registered levonorgestrel, for use as a "morning after pill."
bullet 2000-OCT-26: British Columbia, Canada: According to Canadian Press: Premier Ujjal Dosanjh of British Columbia announced that women will be able to buy "morning after" pills from their pharmacists without a prescription, starting 2000-DEC. He said "Too many women for too long have been denied the use of emergency contraception bills because they couldn't get them when they needed them." However, the pills will continue to be unavailable at Wal-Mart stores.
bullet 2000-NOV-2: Ontario, Canada: According to the Toronto Star, Dr. Henry Morgentaler wrote to the Health Minister of Ontario asking that pharmacists be allowed to dispense emergency contraception without a doctor's prescription. He mentioned that it would be a major convenience to women who need the pill during the weekend when doctors are often unavailable, or who live in rural areas, or who are young and afraid to ask their doctor. "Such a policy would decrease the number of unintended pregnancies and the consequent need for abortion, something most responsible people would applaud." The Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario Women's Health Council both support facilitated distribution of the pill.
bullet 2000-NOV-3: USA: President vetoes bill: President Clinton vetoed the bill which would have funded the operations of the federal government. He had earlier reached an agreement with congressional leaders. Clinton said: "We thought we had a good-faith agreement, with honorable compromises on both sides. That was before the special interests weighed in with the Republican leadership." Jesse Helms (R-NC) had submitted an amendment to the bill that funds the federal Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments. It would have banned the use of federal funds to allow medical clinics in schools to distribute emergency contraception. Congress will return on NOV-14 after the elections to continue attempting to pass the bill. 2
bullet 2000-DEC-9: USA: School-based clinics: The proposed annual funding bill for the federal Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments has alarmed pro-life advocates. It is one of the bills caught in the end-of-session, pre-Christmas rush. As it now stands, it would increase funding for Planned Parenthood by what they estimate to be $35 million. It might also not include an amendment sponsored by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) which would prevent school-base clinics from dispensing emergency contraception to women under 18 without their parent's consent.
bullet 2000-DEC-12: USA: AMA recommends over the counter status for emergency contraception : The American Medical Association's policy arm voted to recommend that the Food and Drug Administration make emergency contraception available as an over-the-counter medication. The vote was unanimous. Some pro-life groups define pregnancy as beginning at conception, and thus regard emergency contraception as a potential abortifacient. Teresa Wagner, spokesperson for the Family Research Council, commented: "The medical profession has basically sold out on the questions of abortion and contraception." Dr. Richard Scheidt, spokesperson for the Christian Medical and Dental Society, said " trivializes [pregnancy]. It's something that if you don't want it you take a pill and you're rid of it. My goodness, we're talking about human life!" One negative result of making the medication freely available is that it would deprive physicians the opportunity to discuss disease and pregnancy protection with their patients. 3

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  1. "British groups blast free morning-after pill offer," Maranatha Christian Journal, at:
  2. Stuart Shepard, "Pro-life measure sticking point in budget talks," Focus on the Family, at:
  3. Martha Kleder, "AMA urges over-the-counter use of 'morning after pill'," Focus on the Family, 2000-DEC-12 at:  

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Copyright 2000 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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