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Women Still Face Some Obstacles to Getting 'Morning After' Pills

One in ten women do not get the "morning after" pills they need to take within 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy even when they call the emergency contraception hotline.

Researches from the Office of Population Research (OPR) at Princeton University found that "the vast majority of the more than 3,000 providers do an excellent job of providing women with access to emergency contraception," according to Dr. James Trussell. However, 14% of providers failed to provide an appointment or a prescription to women within 72 hours of being called.

The hotline (1-888-not-2-late), a service provided by the Reproductive Health Technologies Project and the Office of Population Research, provides for callers the number of five local doctors who offer emergency contraception.

Callers were able to get an appointment or the morning after pill 76% of the time. Thirty-one percent of those who could get an appointment were required to take a pregnancy test and 27% had to undergo a pelvic exam, even though no major medical organization indicates that these procedures are necessary.

The authors of the study released in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology suggested making emergency contraception available over the counter without a prescription, as they do in France, to increase access.

Media Resources: Reuters - February 4, 2000