Argentina’s government announced on Wednesday that the’morning after pill,’ also known as emergency contraception, would no longer require a prescription, thereby expanding reproductive rights in the traditionally conservative South American country.
While the United States to the north has restricted abortion access, the Catholic country and homeland of Pope Francis has approved a law that will allow abortions up to 14 weeks after conception beginning in December 2020.
According to the health ministry, this measure will help to prevent unintended pregnancies by removing “difficulties of access to health services, contraception supplies, and education.”
This “removes an important barrier to access,” according to Valeria Isla, the Health Ministry’s director of sexual and reproductive health. It’s comforting to know that “people can have this method of contraception as support before an emergency happens.”
A hormonal pill taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex is 99.9 percent effective at preventing pregnancy by blocking egg fertilization, and within 12 hours is even more effective.
At the moment, the day-after pill is available without a prescription in at least 70 countries, including the United States. Most Latin American countries allow emergency contraception, though some have restrictions, such as requiring a doctor’s prescription or being of a certain age.
Vanessa Gagliardi, an Argentine feminist leader, said the move would “de-stigmatize” the morning-after pill in a country where official data shows that seven out of ten adolescent pregnancies are unplanned.
“For a long time, it was thought to induce an abortion, which is not true,” Gagliardi said, referring to pro-life groups’ frequent criticism of emergency contraception.
DerquiXlaVida, an Argentine pro-life organization, expressed concern about the bill, saying that “the state is essentially orienting itself towards promoting abortive measures.”
“It’s a way of recognizing the failure of pregnancy prevention, sex education, and the responsibility, and even persecution, of authors and promoters of sexual abuse,” the organization explained in a statement.
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