Has the availability of the morning after pill impacted on procedural abortion rates and what impact has this had on women's health in the UK?

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Abstract

Introduction

The introduction of emergency contraceptives in the United Kingdom (UK) has had the potential to significantly affect women's health and well-being. This paper will explore the possible implications associated with the introduction of the ‘morning after pill’ on abortion statistics and subsequently on women's health in the UK. Observations regarding abortion statistics before and after the introduction of the morning after pill would suggest that emergency contraception has not impacted significantly on procedural abortion rates as expected. Furthermore, no conclusion can be drawn regarding the impact on women's health. Possible explanations for the increasing abortion rate that could be considered are social stigma, the availability of home pregnancy tests, legislation changes and the popularity and effectiveness of other forms of contraceptives. Abortions in the UK are still occurring at a high rate and the rate of sexually transmitted diseases is also increasing, therefore suggesting that women's health has not improved over the last 13 years. As a nation we should be looking at educating young people on the importance of safe sex to promote protection from both unwanted pregnancy and sexual diseases. Improvements in sex education would contribute to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and subsequent abortions, whilst improving sexual health and the overall health and well-being of women in the UK.

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