The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain's leading abortion agency, are offering free morning-after contraceptive pills over the Christmas and New Year holidays, ostensibly because the BPAS reports that the group sees more women with unplanned pregnancies in January than any other time, and hopes the project would reduce numbers.
Considering that the pill normally costs £25 (or 29 euros, US$39), it is unknown how large the distribution of the product will be. In explaining the free distribution program, the BPAS refers to increased festivity during the holidays as one explanation for the rise in January pregnancies, but also warns that pharmacy closures due to the holidays often make it harder to obtain emergency contraception pills.
The new service allows women to request the morning-after pill in advance and, following a 15-minute telephone consultation with a nurse, receive a packet that includes a pill, condoms and informative literature.
The morning-after pill can be taken up to 72 hours after a woman has had sex, although it is most effective if taken within 12 hours.
The anti-abortion group, Life (http://www.lifecharity.org.uk) condemned the service, saying it encouraged risky sexual behavior. "If a woman has the morning-after pill at home 'just in case' she may be more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour than she would normally, particularly over the festive period with the associated increase in alcohol consumption," a spokeswoman emphasized.
British health statistics reveal that 189,574 abortions were carried out in England and Wales in 2010, 8% more than in 2000. Some 91% were carried out at during the first trimester.