EC Goes OTC in Canada

Pamela Pizarro

Women in most parts of Canada will soon be able to access emergency contraception over-the-counter. But the lack of centralized health care policy means women in Quebec will still need to consult pharmacists first.

Women in most parts of Canada
will soon be able to access emergency contraception over the counter. The
Canadian National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities recently decided
that the drug known by its brand name “Plan B” will be available to women without
having first to consult a pharmacist.
Emergency contraception is already available without a prescription — but
now women should be able to access it as easily as cold medication. It is hoped that this will mean more
women will have access to emergency contraception as an option when faced with an unwanted pregnancy; which will hopefully reduce the number of
abortions, as well. Women in Quebec, however, will
not be able to access the drug without first consulting a pharmacist as it has
not been approved for over the counter sale in that province.

I applaud this move as it will
mean that more women will be able to access the drug and also have more control
over their bodies. In the past there
have been instances, especially in the United States, of women being denied the
drug by anti-choice pharmacists who believe that the drug can induce an
abortion. This is completely false as emergency
contraception can only prevent pregnancy, but does nothing to an already
established pregnancy.

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It is interesting to note that the
drug will not have the same status in Quebec.
It once again shows the discrepancy in accessing reproductive health
services across Canada. As I have
discussed in my blogs before, the lack of centralized health care policy means
that there is uneven access to necessary services such as abortion services,
and in this case access to drugs.
Hopefully this will not be the case for too much longer for the women of
Quebec who deserve the same access as women in other parts of Canada.

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