In an attempt to curb unplanned pregnancies and abortions in Wales (a place that sees some of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe), teens may now obtain the morning-after pill over the counter and FREE from local pharmacies.
In a move last November, Health minister Edwina Hart announced that she wanted professional advice available without appointment and easily accessible within the 72-hour time-span necessary for emergency contraception to be most effective.
If prescribed by a doctor, the morning-after pill is already available free from GP surgeries and sexual health clinics across Britain, and in pharmacies in Scotland and some parts of England. Now, more than 700 community pharmacies will be able to dispense the emergency contraceptive pill - at no charge-- to girls younger than 16 if they believe it is "clinically appropriate" even without a doctor's prescription.
Some groups are frowning upon this decision to allow Welsh pharmacists to hand out the morning-after pill, claiming that this encourages irresponsible behavior and may prevent teens from receiving important information from doctors. A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Emergency contraception is already free in a range of NHS settings in England. Our policy is focused on improving access to more reliable forms of contraception. This has resulted in reducing rates of teenage pregnancies and abortions."
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