The morning-after pill, taken to prevent pregnancies, caused friction between the authorities of Costa Rica. The Ministry of Health intends to restrict its sale while the National Institute of Women (INAMU) says that it should be freely available.
The debate arose while health authorities were discussing whether or not to register the drug, known as Levonorgestrel, taken to avoid pregnancy after sexual intercourse.
“If a woman is a victim of rape or if she has had risky sexual intercourse, she ought to have the option of free access to emergency contraception,” the INAMU stated in a press release.
The organization claimed that it is effectively a method of contraception, like condoms or the IUD device and “it has no medical contraindication or any age limit” for its use.
However, the head of the Drug Registration Unit of the Ministry of Health, Ileana Herrera, told journalists that the morning-after pill ought to receive the same treatment as other pharmaceutical products.
“Products that are sold in the pharmacy can only be bought with a prescription, therefore, women should have to get a prescription and be sent by a doctor, in accordance with her health and personal circumstances,” said Herrera.
Feminist organizations have jumped to defend the pill as well as selling it without a prescription since time affects the efficiency of the pill.
Religious groups have spoken out against the drug’s approval, stating that it is effectively “an abortion,” and therefore, its sale in the country contradicts Costa Rican legislation, which only permits abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. The pill only works to prevent pregnancies though and has no effect if a woman is already pregnant.
INAMU, quoting the World Health Organization, said that “all women and girls who run the risk of an unwanted pregnancy ought to have the right to emergency contraception.”
Correction: A previous version of this story included a photo of Mifepristone (RU-486), a drug that can be used to terminate an existing pregnancy. We have replaced it with a photo of the correct drug, Levonorgestrel, which is used to prevent pregnancy.
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