Pharmacists in OTC pill call

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has backed a call from Choice Ireland for the morning after pill to be made available without a doctor’s prescription.

Choice Ireland , a group of pro-choice activists, has called for emergency contraception to be made available-over- the-counter (OTC) after a report that a GP in Co. Kerry refused to prescribe it on “religious and ethical” grounds, and the woman concerned had to travel to Cork the next day to get a prescription.

Medical Council ethics rules state that where a doctor has a conscientious objection to providing a particular treatment, he or she must make the names of other doctor who might provide the treatment available to the patient.

The IPU said pharmacists have the skills and competencies to dispense the morning afer pill and provide appropriate advice and counselling to such patients.

Meath pharmacist Kathy Maher said it was important that patients get timely access to emergency hormonal contraception, but many often find it difficult to get a prescription at the weekend and come into pharmacies urgently looking for the morning-after pill.

She said the morning-after pill should not be the only form of contraception used and pharmacists could also refer patients back to their GP, where appropriate, for a consultation on their contraceptive choices once the morning after pill has been dispensed.

The IPU pointed out that a study published in the British Medical Journal after patients in the UK were enabled to access emergency hormonal contraception directly from pharmacists found that it did not appear to have led to an increase in its use or to a decrease in the use of other forms of contraception.

The morning-after pill can be taken for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex but the earlier it is taken, the more effective it is.

Sinead Ahern, spokeswoman for Choice Ireland, said: “the need for a prescription to obtain the morning after pill is a significant burden in itself. A women must first find a GP who will see her – which can be difficult at the weekend, when demand for the pill is highest – and then pay the roughly €60 visit fee, on top of the charge for the pill.”

She said the longer the delay, the less effective the pill is and the more likely a crisis pregnancy will result. “This poses a particular problem for women in rural areas where access to GPs can be very limited, especially at weekends.”

The Medical Council’s latest ethics guidelines state that doctors must must not allow their personal moral standards to influence their treatment of patients.

“If you have a conscientious objection to a course of action, you should explain this to the patient and make the names of other doctors available to them. Conscientious objection does not absolve you from responsibility to a patient in emergency circumstances,” the guidelines state.

Dear Choice Supporter,

Choice Ireland has a lot of ideas on how to advance the struggle for choice in Ireland. The problem is, they cost money, and we don’t have any! We’re a small voluntary activist organisation which survives entirely on donations – unlike our opponents, who receive huge amounts of funding from the Irish political establishment, the Catholic Church and a number of dodgy right-wing American groups.

So we can’t afford to rent plush offices in the city centre or run slick cinema ads – but there is more that we could do with just a little bit of help. Even 1€  from all of you would make an enormous difference!

There are several easy ways to donate:

1. By electronic funds transfer to our bank account (Bank of Ireland –College Green, Sort Code 90-00-17, Account No 86759412)
2. By post to PO Box 11773, Dublin 1
3. By Paypal to choiceireland@gmail.com

We know everyone’s stretched these days, but any amount at all that you can spare would be greatly appreciated. Even if it’s only €1. Really, we’d be delighted to receive it.

Thanks in advance. And we promise not to ask you again for a long long time.

In solidarity,
Choice Ireland.

Choice Ireland have again called for emergency contraception to be made available over the counter after a report that a GP refused to prescribe it on “religious and ethical” grounds.

The Kerryman newspaper reported this week that a young woman who attended the Tralee SouthDoc out-of-hours clinic on Sunday was turned away and had to travel to Cork the next day to get a prescription.

Spokesperson Sinéad Ahern said:

“The need for a prescription to obtain the morning after pill is a significant burden in itself. A women must first find a GP who will see her – which can be difficult at the weekend, when demand for the pill is highest – and then pay the roughly €60 visit fee, on top of the charge for the pill. The longer the delay, the less effective the pill is and the more likely a crisis pregnancy will result. This poses a particular problem for women in rural areas where access to GPs can be very limited, especially at weekends.

“It is totally unacceptable that a woman who is able to see a GP can nonetheless be denied the pill on the basis of that GP’s personal views. Medical professionals should act professionally and not allow their religious or ethical beliefs to interfere with the job they are paid to do. It is incumbent on the HSE to ensure that patients are not placed in a position where the only doctor available to them is allowed an ‘opt-out’ of the treatment they require.

“Such incidents only reinforce the need for emergency contraception to be made available over the counter in pharmacies. This is already the case in the North of Ireland, Britain and many other countries in Europe. Irish women should have the same right of access to the medical care we need, when we need it.” ENDS

Tue, Jun 29, 2010

Women report feeling traumatised after anti-abortion groups use misleading advertising to convince them to use their services, writes CAROL RYAN

THE HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme is advising women to avoid “unreliable” counselling services, after it received 67 complaints over a nine-month period about certain agencies which tried to influence women’s decisions about their pregnancies.

Several women who approached these agencies for advice on their options reported feeling distressed by the counselling techniques used. State-funded pregnancy counselling services are concerned about the issue, and have called on the Government to step in and regulate their activities.

Pregnancy counselling services in Ireland generally state their ethos to help women select an appropriate service. One of the criticisms levelled against unreliable agencies by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) among others, is that their advertising is misleading, implying that they will provide information about abortion services abroad when this is not the case.

An IFPA report claims that so-called “rogue” agencies use pro-choice language and advertise in a manner designed to attract women who may be considering abortion, when in reality they have an anti-abortion ethos.

The report describes how the services, listed under “family planning” in the Golden Pages , offer to discuss “all options” and refer to UK cities in their advertisements. The IFPA claims the ads are misleading, “inducing in the reader the false expectation that they will provide information on abortion services”.

The counselling methods used by these agencies have also come in for strong criticism. The Well Woman Clinic regularly encounters women who have visited them and found the experience upsetting.

“From what we hear, women are subjected to the most extraordinary tactics,” says Alison Begas, chief executive of the Well Woman Centre.

“We have heard stories of counselling sessions lasting three to four hours, the use of lurid US-produced videos and disturbing images.

“None of these tactics has any place in responsible pregnancy counselling. The problem is that most women don’t know where to go for advice until they actually need it.”

She adds that silence surrounding the issue of abortion leaves women vulnerable to “spurious” medical information, and women who have a bad experience with a rogue agency are less likely to seek the good quality service they need to make an informed decision. (more…)

via Choice Ireland

If you listen enough to the Irish anti-abortion movement, there’s something you’ll notice about them. They have certain mantras that slip into every public comment they make – regardless of whether it makes sense in the context or, indeed, whether it makes sense at all. For example, any mention of the many recent surveys indicating a shift in Irish attitudes towards abortion will be blithely dismissed – on the basis that the respondents weren’t asked to distinguish between “medical interventions” necessary to save a woman’s life and, you know, real abortions. The anti-choicer will then point to their own polls (which are inevitably worded in a way that invites an anti-choice response) and insist that their results are more representative of what the Irish people really think. Point out the failure of their polls to make any further distinctions – such as between women whose birth control failed or were raped or are carrying a foetus with severe abnormalities – and the anti-choicer will stick stubbornly to their survey results, even though those surveys are obviously completely inadequate to cover the wide range of human opinion on the subject. It never ceases to amaze and frustrate me how the Irish media (and, it must be said, certain pro-choice spokespersons) consistently fail to challenge them on this, when it would be so easy to do.

The latest mantra which has popped up in every anti-choicer interview I’ve heard recently has to do with Ireland’s maternal mortality rate (MMR). It’s one of the lowest in the world, apparently, and for some reason they think this is really really significant in the abortion debate. The first couple times I heard them say this, I dismissed it as being too obviously irrelevant to merit further consideration – after all, who ever suggested that our abortion ban was killing women? Pro-choicers have always pointed to the numbers of women travelling to Britain or further afield (statistics, incidentally, which the antis prefer to ignore) as demonstrating our hypocrisy in using another country’s laws as our safety net so that Irish women don’t die from illegal abortions. We have never claimed that they are somehow dying anyway. So what exactly are the anti-choicers on about? (more…)