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Position on the “morning after pill”

Tuesday, 18 May 2004

On Tuesday, May 18, 2004, federal Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew announced that the government would proceed following one final consultation with making "the morning after pill" available at drug stores without prescription.

On November 27, 2003, Bishop Pierre Morrisette of Baie-Comeau, chairman of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), wrote the Minister of Health outlining Catholic concerns about the morning after pill.

The concerns are:

Pregnancy begins with conception not implantation. It is thus inaccurate to refer to this pill as emergency contraception, given its potential to act as an abortifacient

Women have a right to know that what is described as "emergency contraception" may in reality be a form of early abortion

A woman, and especially a teenager, who believes she is in need of "emergency contraception" is also in need of counselling, support, information about how the pill works, its physical and psychological side effects, the dangers of regular use, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and guidance about relationships. Can these needs be truly met in the context of a very busy, very public and perhaps impersonal pharmacy?

The morning after pill is a high risk multiple dose of an oral contraceptive that by definition is not intended for routine use. If this is the case, what health risks are women subjecting themselves to with one-time use of the pill? And what about those women who may have frequent unregulated recourse to it as a form of "emergency" contraception?

This week COLF has received notice from Mr. Pettigrew indicating that the November 27, 2003 letter would be forwarded to the body carrying out this latest consultation for its consideration.

The full text of the letter may be found on the COLF website by clicking here .

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