Harm reduction or women's rights? Debating access to emergency contraceptive pills in Canada and the United States

L. L. Wynn*, Joanna N. Erdman, Angel M. Foster, James Trussell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article compares the ethical pivot points in debates over nonprescription access to emergency contraceptive pills in Canada and the United States. These include women's right to be informed about the contraceptive method and its mechanism of action, pharmacists' conscientious objection concerning the dispensing of emergency contraceptive pills, and rights and equality of access to the method, especially for poor women and minorities. In both countries, arguments in support of expanding access to the pills were shaped by two competing orientations toward health and sexuality. The first, "harm reduction," promotes emergency contraception as attenuating the public health risks entailed in sex. The second orientation regards access to pills as a question of women's right to engage in nonprocreative sex and to choose from among all reproductive health-care options. The authors contend that arguments for expanding access to emergency contraceptive pills that frame issues in terms of health and science are insufficient bases for drug regulation; ultimately, women's health is also a matter of women's rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-267
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Family Planning
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Harm reduction or women's rights? Debating access to emergency contraceptive pills in Canada and the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this