'Morning after' pill may be legalised

The 'morning-after pill' may finally be legalised in this country. Ireland is currently one of only two EU countries which does not have legalised emergency contraception.

The Cabinet sub-committee on abortion is expected to recommend the move in an effort to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies in the state, according to today's 'Irish Times'.

A decision by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) to refuse a licence to a new emergency contraceptive pill last year was slammed by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), who described the move as 'ridiculous'.

At the time, the IMB refused the licence on the grounds that the drug, Levonelle, also known as the levonorgestrel-only pill, was an abortifacient. (An abortifacient is a drug which induces an abortion or a miscarriage.) However the drug is not considered an abortifacient in any other country in the world and is licensed in every EU country except Ireland and Greece.

According to the IFPA, at the moment, doctors and clinics, at their own discretion, give out four high dose oestrogen pills, which have to be taken 12 hours apart. The first dose must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

According to Dr Sheila Jones, medical director of the IFPA, the levonorgestrel-only pill is a better option for women to take as it does not induce vomiting and can also be used on women who cannot take oestrogen-based emergency based contraception.

The cabinet sub-committee on the issue is chaired by Health Minister, Micheál Martin.

What is the morning after pill and how does it work? See our feature…


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