The other side of the Emergency Contraception (EC) story.
In Jamaica, the protocol sold under the name of “Postinor 2” is available Over the Counter (OTC). There is concern that the OTC EC is being over used in this country with a high HIV/AIDs infection rate.
And then, we find out that the girls in Jamaica would rather have an abortion, even a self induced abortion, than to use the EC.
From the June 26, 2006 Jamaica Observer:
Kingston (Panos) – Despite the introduction of the Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) Postinor 2 in Jamaica three years ago, research has shown that the demand for the drug is low, as some women prefer induced abortions.
The findings emerged from a recent study on the demand for emergency contraception among adolescents prepared for the Ministry of Health’s Family Health Services by Hope Enterprises Limited. It suggested that abortions among adolescents range from a conservative 1,350 to a possible maximum of 4,912 per year. It also revealed that young women aged 15 to 19 and particularly those aged 15 to 16, have a relatively high incidence of abortions compared to older teens and adults.
The study forms part of a joint programme in sexual and reproductive health established by the government, the European Council and the United Nations Population Fund.
In presenting the study at a seminar recently, Maxine Wedderburn from Hope, a research-based organisation, noted that although Postinor 2 was readily available and accessible, adolescents refused to take the drug.
She pointed out that they opted to undergo induced abortions, which is illegal in Jamaica. “What is interesting to note is that although 62 per cent of the adolescents interviewed during our research have heard of Postinor 2 and 90 per cent know where to access it, they still see it as an ‘abortion agent’ and stigmatises those who use it,” said Wedderburn. This could be one reason for its under-usage in Jamaica. Postinor 2 was gazetted by the government as an over-the-counter alternative to abortion.
She further noted that the current use of the ECP is under 20 per cent. She added that the statistics clearly indicated the need for the drug especially among adolescents 15 to 19 years old who are most likely to be involved in casual sex or coerced into sex which result in unwanted pregnancies.
“There is usually a significant amount of money involved and it can be very stressful for the young mother. There is, therefore, an obvious need for aggressive marketing of ECP to the target group most likely to need it as an alternative to abortion,” added Wedderburn.
It has also been noted that some adolescents, who feared going to medical facilities, opted for risky, self-induced abortions using a number of methods, such as Pepsi and Excedrin, coat hangers and jumping from high places.
Wedderburn said that these occurrences were very worrying, especially in view of the fact that ECP is available at no cost at health centres.
“The Ministry of Health has been using the media to spread the news about Postinor 2, but obviously more marketing of the drug needs to be done. “Based on our own findings at the Family Planning Board, we realise that pharmacies are concerned about the abuse of Postinor 2 and so they do not encourage print materials on the drug near their dispensary counters,” she explained.