Leading article: The pill enters the internet age

Share
Related Topics

N ow what do you think was the response of the medical establishment to news that the contraceptive pill can be bought over the internet? You surely guessed it in one. The doctors – as represented by their spokesperson at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – do not like it at all.

The medics' misgivings, of course, have nothing to do with morality: they are content to believe that what people do in their own time, with or without consent, is no concern of theirs. Their objections – they say – derive entirely from medical considerations. The most commonly prescribed pill entails a very small risk of thrombosis, as is made clear on every packet. Women ordering the pill over the internet will pass up the blood pressure check that is otherwise routine.

Internet ordering is still not hassle-free. Women have to register and answer a detailed questionnaire, and they have to state that they are over 18. So long as the registering name and the name on the credit card tally, however, there is no further bar to misrepresentation. It would not be impossible for someone younger to buy the pill over the internet.

While not wishing to condone law-breaking, we cannot believe that sales of the pill over the internet are as much of a problem as doctors are making out. On the contrary, easier access to both the contraceptive pill and the morning-after pill is overdue; provision of both has for too long been a closed shop for GPs.

The Government said months ago that it was reviewing a plan to make the pill available over-the-counter at pharmacies. Since when it has remained just that: a plan. And even if, in ministers' own sweet time, the pill were available without prescription, women would still have to answer the same questions face-to-face that they can now answer over the internet, in private.

It is the requirement to visit a doctor or pharmacy in person that so many people, especially younger girls, find off-putting about the present arrangements. With most GP surgeries operating only office hours, convenience also enters the equation. Given that our teenage pregnancy rate is among the highest in Europe and abortions are running at record levels, anything that broadens access to safe contraception is to be encouraged; that includes ordering it over the internet.

Compare and contrast the situation with Viagra. How many moons is it since unsolicited adverts started to feature in almost every email inbox? And how many Royal College health warnings have been issued in response? If it were men, rather than women, who benefited from the pill, it might have been available over the internet long ago.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The old 1,000 Greek drachma notes and current 20 euros  

Greece debt crisis: History shows 'new drachma' is nothing to fear

Ben Chu
David Cameron leaves Number 10 to speak at Parliament  

Tunisia attack: To prevent more bloodshed we must accept that containment has not worked

Patrick Cockburn
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue