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Pill 'has not led to unsafe sex.

Allowing women to buy the morning-after pill at chemists has not led to an increase in unsafe sex, say researchers.

In January 2001, the emergency hormonal contraceptive (EHC), which can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, was made available without prescription in Britain to women over the age of 16, at a cost of around pounds 20-pounds 25.

Critics of the move claimed it would lead to abuse - multiple use of the pill - as well as encourage unsafe sex, especially among teenagers.

But a study by Imperial College London has now suggested that these fears were unfounded. The researchers, writing in the British Medical Journal, used survey data from thousands of women aged 16 to 49 to access the impact of making the morning-after pill available over the counter.

They found that the level of use of different contraceptives remained very similar before and after the morning-after pill was made available.

They found no significant change in the proportion of women using the pill - which was 8.4 per cent in 2000, 7.9 per cent in 2001 and 7.2 per cent in 2002. The researchers also said they did not see any increase in the amount of unprotected sex women were having. 'Opponents of lifting the ban on over-the-counter sales say that easier access will lead to 'abuse' of EHC and will encourage unsafe sex, particularly among teenagers.

'Our study provides no evidence to support this argument,' they said
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 9, 2005
Words:244
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