SURPRISE SURPRISE: WOMEN'S CONTRACEPTION HAS BECOME HARDER TO ACESS IN LOCKDOWN
JUNE 29TH 2020
LIFE & CULTURE

Women’s access to vital contraception and sexual health services has always been difficult…unsurprisingly (insert eye roll). With long waiting lists for appointments, women can be subjected to invasive questioning, and the morning after pill comes with a hefty price tag, reinforcing again this ideology that it’s ‘the woman’s problem’. Unsurprisingly, all of these problems have been exacerbated in lockdown, as services across the UK were “rolled back” by decades due to the pandemic.

Now, new figures show that access to emergency contraception, including the morning after pill, has been so hard in quarantine that sales fell by 50 per cent from March to April, while NHS prescriptions for the pills dropped by 20 per cent.

UK retail data from researcher Information Resources Incorporated (IRI) showed that sales of emergency contraception fell from 38,553 in March to 18,500 in April, rising again to 23,918 in May. 

Currently, although women in the UK can obtain the morning after pill for free from GP surgeries or walk-in clinics, most of those in need buy it over the counter from pharmacies, which can cost up to £35, which can be a hefty price tag for young people, students or those who don’t have a stable or functional income. In November last year, an online pharmacy began selling emergency contraception for just £3, proving that high street stores are grossly overcharging.

“Women are still having to pay vastly over the odds for this pill at their time of need,” Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at BPS, told The Telegraph at the time. “There is simply no reason why we should restrict access in the way we do when the stakes for women are so high – women know when they need it and should be trusted to use it.”