This is how it should be:

Women will soon be able to get the morning after pill delivered by courier to their home or office.

By Murray Wardrop

7:30AM BST 17 Apr 2012

A new service will allow women to order emergency contraception on the internet, so it arrives within two hours, rather than having to see their GP to obtain the drugs.

Critics argue that it will encourage under age sex by making it too easy to obtain the morning after pill.

For £20, women will be able to order the drugs by filling out an online form through the internet medical practice

The forms, which ask users to confirm they are aged over 18, will be assessed by doctors before pills are dispatched by courier.

Pills can be delivered within two hours on a normal working day, although it may also be possible for women to order online overnight for delivery the following morning.

Amit Khutti, founder of DrEd, said young girls would be deterred because dates of birth were requested during registration and patients needed a credit card.

He said: “I don’t think this service is going to appeal to minors or encourage under age sex.

“For a start, you need to pay for the service and if you’re young there are a number of places you can already get the morning after pill free.

“Emergency contraception works better the sooner you take it, so having it delivered within two hours will make it more likely to be effective.”

Mr Khutti said that previously the company could only offer emergency contraception in advance online because of problems ensuring it arrived in time to work – it is most effective within 36 hours of having sex.

He said: “It’s not ethical to provide a service that arrives too late.”

The courier service will begin in London this month but will be extended to other cities if it proves successful.

Mr Khutti added: “It will arrive at the office in discreet packaging so women won’t be embarrassed. Socially, some people are still put off by having to answer questions face to face about why they need emergency contraception.”

Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, said girls could easily lie about their age to access the pills and it should remain a prescription-only drug.

He said: “Since the morning-after pill was first approved for use in the UK, various schemes have been introduced to make it more widely and more easily available, yet the international research evidence continues to show that making it more readily available has not succeeded in reducing unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.

“Instead, young people in particular have been lulled into a false sense of security, take a more casual attitude to sex, and become exposed to an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.”

Pharmacies already offer the morning-after pill over the counter for around £25.

In 2010/11 about 120,000 morning after pills were prescribed to reduce the workload of GPs.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has an online service which allows women to request emergency contraception and stock up in advance.

They speak to a nurse over the phone before it is delivered free of charge to their home.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has previously criticised that scheme, saying he would prefer pills to be issued after a face – to – face consultations with medical professionals.

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.

Mexico’s Supreme Court has upheld a law requiring hospitals to offer rape victims a morning-after birth control pill, rejecting an appeal that argued the pill’s effect constitutes the equivalent of an abortion.

Abortion is regulated under state laws in Mexico, and most of the 31 states outlaw elective abortions. An appeal filed by the Jalisco state government says the federal morning-after law is an intrusion on states’ rights.

But justices disagreed in an 10-1 vote Thursday. The majority ruled that use of the pill is not the equivalent of abortion, but rather is part of a public health policy.

The court said the federal government has the right to set health policy.

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