15 September 2006 Abortions Increasing Despite Emergency Contraception
The easy availability of emergency contraception has not had any real effect on the rates of pregnancy and abortion in the United Kingdom, say health professionals writing in this week's British Medical Journal.
The surprising finding has led Professor Anna Glasier, director of family planning at Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust, Edinburgh, to question the usefulness of emergency contraception. Originally heralded as the solution to rising abortion rates, it appears to have had little real effect. In the UK, abortion rates have increased from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1984 (136,388 abortions), to 18 per 1,000 women in 2004 (185,400 abortions), despite the increased use of emergency contraception.
Interestingly, 10 different studies carried out in different countries showed that giving women a supply of emergency contraception to keep at home increased its use by two-fold or three-fold, but had no measurable effect on rates of pregnancy or abortion.
"If you are looking for an intervention that will reduce abortion rates, emergency contraception may not be the solution and perhaps you should concentrate most on encouraging people to use contraception before or during sex, not after it," concluded Glasier.