Emergency contraceptives should be over the counter

Press Release

The Malta Humanist Association is joining the call for the emergency contraceptive pill to be made available over the counter, without a prescription, to women who need it.

Although Malta has come a long way in improving gender equality, some unfortunate attitudes still exist, such as the idea that a woman should have to justify her decision not to get pregnant, or discuss her sexual activity with a third party before the latter decides whether she should be allowed to avoid pregnancy or not. Rejecting the woman’s request effectively means that the doctor has the authority to potentially impose pregnancy on her if he or she disagrees with her.

If a woman decides to buy the emergency contraceptive pill, the only legitimate questions are medical ones, such as those related to allergies or contraindications. Pharmacists are quite capable of performing this task - they are trained medical professionals, not mere cashiers.

Requiring a woman to be seen by a doctor introduces an unnecessary delay, when the idea of an emergency contraceptive is that it must be taken as soon as possible after copulation to ensure maximum effectiveness. That delay could mean that fertilisation takes place - in which case the ECP is rendered useless. Objectors to this pill should take the time to consider what an unwanted pregnancy can mean to a woman or a girl.

In view of this, we strongly encourage the authorities concerned to authorise the sale of the emergency contraceptive pill from pharmacies over the counter.