Canadian Physicians Warn of Dangers of MAP/EC (5/04)

Responding to Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew’s announcement on 18May04 that Health Canada will move forward with allowing the “morning after pill” (MAP) to be sold without a doctor’s prescription, Dr. Will Johnston, president of Canadian Physicians for Life, expressed concern that such a move could endanger the health of Canadian women and girls and raise serious issues regarding informed consent. “The policy to make the ‘morning after pill’ available without a doctor’sprescription puts women and girls at higher risk for disease and sexualhealth problems,” said Dr. Johnston. The “morning after pill” (MAP)  is a multiple dose of an oral contraceptive, levonorgestrel, which is found in the birth control pill. Manufacturers have reduced the hormone content of oral contraceptives due to serious side effects and health risks. “Now women are being encouraged to use these same pills, in multiple doses, as post-coital ‘contraception,'” Dr. Johnston said. “The potential long-term impact of these high hormone doses, especially when used repeatedly, is worrisome and not being adequately addressed.” The makers of the Plan-B MAP highlight on their website that it is “not recommended for routine use as a contraceptive.” Yet there is no way to prevent misuse and abuse if readily available without a prescription. “Physical and clinical examinations by a physician are essential to goodhealthcare: to counsel patients on how to reliably avoid pregnancy, todetermine sexually-transmitted diseases and abusive or coerciverelationships, and to discuss health risks,” said Dr. Johnston. “MAP doesnot protect against STDs and instead of preventing a pregnancy, mayterminate it. Such serious issues cannot be adequately addressed at apharmacist’s counter.” MAP can function in one of three ways: by preventing...