Press Releases: Risk of Unwanted Pregnancies with Morning After Pill Conscience Clause & Cuts to services set to cost UK £136.7 billion

Risk of Unwanted Pregnancies with Morning After Pill Conscience Clause

This article is published in the Journal of Medical Ethics today – “The Fox and the grapes: an Anglo-Irish perspective on conscientious objection to the supply of emergency hormonal contraception without prescription”

Conscience clauses, which allow pharmacists to opt out of providing the “morning after pill” without a prescription, risk unwanted pregnancies and undermine the principle of universal healthcare in the NHS, say pharmacists in the Journal of Medical Ethics.  These clauses should either be banned or enhanced so that pharmacists and patients know exactly where they stand, rather than the current “fudge”, which serves nobody well, the authors conclude. Emergency contraception without a prescription became available from UK pharmacies in 2001 and the Republic of Ireland in 2011.  Built-in conscience clauses allow pharmacists to opt-out of provision on moral or religious grounds, providing they refer patients to other providers willing to prescribe the product.

Cuts to services set to saddle UK with a £136.7 billion NHS and welfare burden by 2020

A new report from the UK’s leading sexual health charities, Brook and FPA, has revealed for the first time the economic and social impact of NHS cuts to contraception and other sexual health services. Cuts are resulting in these services been reduced or restricted and this can already be seen across the UK today. The report looks at what happens if these restrictions to services continue unabated. The key findings of the report reveal:

–          A significant rise in the number of NHS abortions and STI rates by 2020

–          An additional cost burden on the NHS of £612.8 million as a consequence of increasing numbers of unintended pregnancies and STIs

–          An increase in wider public spending of up to £124.7 billion – equivalent to 10% of all welfare spendingby 2020

Anne Connolly, GP in Bradford, and Chair of the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum, said; “There is a clear danger that imminent changes to commissioning could significantly undermine the good work that professionals are doing. Maintaining progress requires investment and if we are brave enough to invest money at a time when there is pressure to disinvest there are massive cost savings as well as quality of life savings to be made, as this report clearly illustrates.”

In response to reports of restrictions to contraception across the UK Brook and FPA joined forces earlier this year to launch XES – We Can’t Go Backwards, a major awareness campaign. Brook and FPA are calling on people in the UK to join the campaign and rate and share their experiences of contraception services, good and bad, through the UK’s only interactive online sexual health map www.wecantgobackwards.org.uk

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