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Scottish Women Receive Samples of Emergency Contraceptives

Nearly 85,000 Scottish women received free emergency contraceptive kits this week as part of a Lothian Health Board initiative to reduce abortions. The kits were distributed to women ages 16-29.

Emergency contraception consists of a special dosage of normal oral contraceptives and is 75% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. It is normally available by prescription only. A World Health Organization study showed that emergency contraception is most effective in the first 12 hours after sex, leading many to argue that women cannot afford to wait for a doctor's appointment and must have the kits on hand in their homes.

Dr. Anna Glasier, Clinical Director of the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust Family Planning and Well Women Service, commented that despite the "widespread availability" of emergency contraception, it is an "under-used" method. Glasier believes that more women will use emergency contraception if it is made more readily available to them.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

Media Resources: BBC - September 2, 1999