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Emergency Contraception

House of Lords written question – answered on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Baroness Young Baroness Young Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they believe that widespread use of the morning-after pill will reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancy; and, if so, what has led them to that conclusion.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Emergency hormonal contraception is a safe and effective method of preventing pregnancy when a woman has had unprotected sex or when she knows something has gone wrong with her usual method. Regular methods of contraception such as the pill or condoms should be the first choice to protect against unwanted pregnancy, but in emergency situations women should be able to access this product quickly and easily. Evidence from a World Health Organisation trial demonstrated that emergency contraceptive pills prevented 86 per cent of expected pregnancies when treatment was initiated within 72 hours of unprotected sex. However this rose to 95 per cent when the first dose was taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. We therefore want to ensure the best possible access to emergency contraception for those that need it.

Increased availability of emergency contraception should be seen in the context of a much wider programme of work we are undertaking to reduce the high number of unwanted pregnancies in this country through the Sexual Health and HIV Strategy and the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. This includes improving access to contraceptive services and the range of contraceptive products that are available.

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