Peru to provide ‘morning after pill’ for poor women

CCTV News

Peru to provide 'morning after pill' for poor women 1

A court in Peru has ordered the government to distribute the oral emergency contraceptive pill – better known as the ‘morning-after’ pill for free. The pill is expected to be available nationwide within 30 days.

CCTV America’s Dan Collyns in Lima has the details.

Peru to provide \'morning after pill\' for poor women

Peru to provide \'morning after pill\' for poor women

A court in Peru has ordered the government to distribute the oral emergency contraceptive pill – better known as the ‘morning-after’ pill for free. The pill is expected to be available nationwide within 30 days. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns in Lima has the details.

After a judge overturned a 2009 ruling, Peru’s health ministry can now begin to restock and distribute the morning after pill for free. The previous decision by Peru’s highest court banned the free distribution of the pill at public hospitals.

But women could still buy the morning after pill over the counter at some private pharmacies. But that put it out of reach for many Peruvian women living on the poverty line or in remote parts of the country.

Costs for the tablet vary between five to 25 dollars. For many Peruvian women, that is money they just can’t spare.

Women’s rights groups said this contraceptive pill was an urgent necessity in Peru.

“We are a country with one of the highest number of reports of sexual violence and an urgent problem with teen pregnancies which can cut short a life,” Rossina Guerrero of women’s rights NGO, Promsex said. “We also have many difficulties in getting access to family planning methods so this is a victory, albeit a small one. It will make the difference for thousands of women.”

Seven years ago, the court said there was evidence that the ‘morning-after pill’ could be abortive in some cases. Abortion is illegal in Peru except when the mother’s life is at risk.

Now – based on new evidence – the court has reversed the decision. Nonetheless, conservative sectors of the church remain bitterly opposed to the free distribution of the pill, particularly the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Luis Cipriani.

Peru’s incoming president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski sarcastically remarked the health minister would ask the cardinal before relaunching the state program.

The Catholic church has always had a strong influence over affairs of the state in Peru despite the fact it is, officially, a lay country.

Now – it appears – the tide may be turning.