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Petition to Polish Ministry of Health demanding access to emergency contraception without prescription


Polish ASTRA Network member, Federation for Women and Family Planning has launched the petition to Polish Ministry of Health demanding that Polish Ministry of Health implements European Commission recommendations that emergency contraception should be sold over the counter.

The English version of the petition follows along with the link:

We demand emergency contraception without prescription in Poland

Anna needed emergency contraception. She and her partner used a condom but it failed. She knew that in Poland she needs to obtain a prescription for pills. Her doctor was on vacation so she went to another clinic. There a receptionist told her in a loud voice that no doctor would prescribe her “that” and dismissed her saying there are no available appointments. In the second public clinic a doctor told her that he would not give the prescription. He did not provide any medical reasons for that, he just said “I don’t give a shit”. He managed to judge Anna’s personal choices in the meantime. When he learned she had no children he said “it’s high time” and also asked questions about her financial situation. Anna cried when she left his office. Finally she got the prescription from another doctor after a 16-hour journey around the city. She had to pay for a private appointment.

There are hundreds of women like Anna in Poland every year. Doctors refuse to issue prescriptions, insult and judge patients, preach of morality and conscientious objection or refer patients to their private practice to make extra money on the side. Emergency contraception is not linked to any serious risks for health and life and more than 20 EU countries are already selling it over-the-counter. European Commission decided recently that also second generation emergency pills ought to be sold directly in pharmacies.

Representative of the Polish Health Ministry has stated that Poland would not apply EU recommendations. He believes that “getting a prescription is not that big an obstacle”. Letters and information women have shared with organizations and media show quite the contrary. When you live in a small town or in the country it is usually impossible to get a doctor’s appointment quickly – waiting lists are long and you need to take a long trip to the clinic. When you’re in a difficult situation, you won’t be able to afford and expensive private appointment and buying unsubsidized contraceptives which cost 15-30 EUR. When you are a teenager a doctor may refuse to give you prescription if you don’t have your parent’s or guardian’s consent. When you’ve experienced the trauma of rape getting a prescription on time may become an impossible barrier.

We demand the Ministry of Health of Poland to immediately implement European Commission recommendations and make emergency contraception available over-the counter. Examples from Western Europe show that the accessibility of family planning combined with good education contribute to the reduction in unwanted pregnancies. Making EC available without prescription would also mean less corruption and black market sales.

We refuse to be pawns in political and ideological games. Access to contraception is our right.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

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