Boots the chemist has come under fire after revealing that just 3 per cent of its stores are offering a cut-price ‘morning-after’ pill, having pledged that it would reduce the price from £26.75 to £15.99. It blamed the manufacturer for lack of stock, apologised to customers and thanked them for their ‘continued patience’, promising to ‘roll this service out to all our stores as soon as possible’.

Campaigners for cheaper morning-after pills claim this ‘service’ is essential for women’s reproductive health, as well as for reducing the numbers of abortions, but we now know that its availability is associated with high levels of sexually transmitted diseases, and makes no difference to the number of abortions.

The ‘morning-after’ lobby wants cheaper pills – pocket-money prices preferably, although free on the NHS would be even better – regardless of the health costs to those women it claims to represent. This powerful hormone has never been tested on under-age girls but is prescribed for them nonetheless, and while promoted as a contraceptive is designed to work after conception, although those taking it are largely unaware that when it does ‘work’ it can act as an abortifacient.

Making it cheaper will simply mean that the possibility of conceiving new life will be taken even more lightly; far from liberating women it will encourage their partners to treat them with less respect. They will come under pressure to take the morning-after pill, and if despite taking it they become pregnant, they will come under pressure to have an abortion. If misogynist campaigners are looking for an effective way to lower women’s self-esteem, they need look no further than the morning-after pill. Unethical chemists are on to a winner too. But women and their offspring will be the losers.

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Ann Farmer
Ann Farmer is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Movement (Catholic University of America, 2008).