Malta: conscientious objection is an obstacle to EC

May 2021. According to a report from One.com in Malta, emergency contraception pills could only be bought in one of the five pharmacies visited on a recent Saturday afternoon. The report takes a look at EC accessibility in Malta five years after it was first registered and commercialised in the country, and the role conscientious objection pharmacists play in it.  Read more on https://www.one.com.mt/news/tag/morning-after-pill/

 

The Vatican and emergency contraception

April 2021. According to news on Raitre, for over 20 years and until 2016, the Vatican invested in companies that produce emergency contraception pills. The Vatican doctrine defends life from the moment of conception. Emergency contraception pills (popularly known as “the morning-after pill”) do not interfere with life after conception. Emergency contraception pills inhibit ovulation: if a woman has not yet ovulated, the pill will prevent her from ovulating (and will therefore prevent fertilization). The morning after pill does not interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. 

Therefore, with these investments, the Vatican has not transgressed its own doctrine.

You can visit our website, or WHO’s page on emergency contraception to lear more about this postcoital contraceptive method, that provides women with a second chance to prevent pregnancy, after unprotected sex.

 

UNFPA’s 2021 State of World Population report

April 202. According to UNFPA’s 2021 State of World Population report, published on April 14, nearly half of women in 57 low income countries are denied the right to decide whether to have sex with their partners, use contraception or seek health care.

This is the first time a United Nations report focuses on bodily autonomy: the power and agency to make choices about your body, without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you. This lack of bodily autonomy deeply harms individual women and girls, and also has massive implications at the socio-economic level.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, and aims at improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide. The report is available in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish from https://www.unfpa.org/SoWP-2021.  

WHO: Contraception delivery during an epidemic

February 2021. The World Health Organization just added two chapters to its Family Planning Handbook. One of them addresses contraception delivery during an epidemic.

These are some of the recommendations:

  • Providers should ensure that individuals make voluntary and informed choices, and that privacy and confidentiality are respected.
  • Multiple doses of emergency contraceptive pills can be provided.
  • Many contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception, can be safely and effectively self-administered without a physical exam. Indiviudals can initiate and continue these methods with or without the support of a health care worker.
  • During an epidemic, emergency contraceptive pills (and other methods) should be dispensed without a prescription and distributed in community outreach programs, where allowed by national regulations.

Overarching messages of this chapter are:

  • Family planning services should be maintained throughout an epidemic.
  • Medical eligibility criteria for safe use of contraceptive methods do not change during an epidemic.
  • Some contraceptive methods can be safely and effectively self-administered, with or without support from health care providers.
  • Greater use of digital health technologies may optimize access to care.

Access the full chapter here or from WHO’s Family Planning Handbook website. 

 

Access to emergency contraception through community pharmacies in Europe: Findings from a participatory survey

January 2021. The European Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ECEC) and the European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YouAct), launched in 2019 a participatory survey in order to better understand how access to and availability of emergency contraception (EC) pills is through community pharmacies in our region.

We are pleased to introduce the survey report, which focuses on five countries: Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malta, Spain and Sweden. You can download the report here.

Our findings suggest that community pharmacies play a very important role in ensuring access to EC pills, with the big majority of pharmacies carrying them (even in countries where they are entitled not to). However, our findings also point at individuals not being systematically offered a choice of postcoital contraception methods in every pharmacy of our sample.

We conclude that access to the highest standard of care in post-coital contraception remains uneven within and among countries in Europe: individuals are likely to have different experiences and outcomes when procuring EC, depending on what European country she/he is in, and also on what pharmacy she/he walks in.

ECEC and YouAct recommend some measures to reduce inequities in access to the highest standard of post-coital contraception care. These include:

  • Reclassifying ECPs so they can be sold in pharmacies and other outlets, without the supervision of a pharmacist.
  • Developing minimum regional and national standards for EC dispensing.
  • Disseminating these standards and making them publicly available, so individuals know what to expect when procuring EC.
  • Conducting non-commercial information campaigns to ensure the ability of all people to access accurate information about all post-coital contraception choices available to them.

Different responsibilities fall on different players. We look forward to starting a conversation to move forward toward a stronger rights-based approach to EC dispensing.

We thank all the organizations, individuals and pharmacy staff that participated in this effort.

Contact us at ecec[at]eeirh[dot]org and join our e-mail list.

 

 

New brands of UPA emergency contraception pills in Europe

January 2021. New brands of ulipristal acetate emergency contraception pills are becoming available in some European countries; as of January 2021 these can be found in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain. Visit the Country by country section of our website for more details on specific brands available in each country.

 

EC for transgender and nonbinary patients

January 2021. The American Society for Emergency Contraception just published EC for Transgender and Nonbinary Patients. This fact sheet is a great resource for all healthcare providers offering care to patients of reproductive age.

Pregnancy is possible for any individual with a uterus and ovary(ies) who has receptive penis-in-vagina sex with partners who produce sperm, regardless of gender identity. Patients who are amenorrheic due to testosterone use may (…)  be at risk for pregnancy. This fact sheet addresses medical and social-emotional aspects of EC for transgender and nonbinary patients.

Download the factsheet from ASEC’s website or from here. We thank the colleagues at ASEC for sharing this valuable work with us.