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close this bookEmergency Contraceptive Pills (WHO - OMS, 1998, 44 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEmergency Contraceptive Pills: What you need to know
View the documentA Resource Packet for Health Care Providers and Programme Managers
View the documentAdapting Resource Packet Materials for Local Use
View the documentSelected References
View the documentA Framework for Introduction
View the documentQuestions and Answers for Decision-Makers
View the documentMessage Points for Use in Training Media Spokespersons
View the documentTalking Points for Spokespersons Responding to Opposition
Open this folder and view contentsEmergency Contraceptive Pills: Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines
View the documentAbout the Consortium for Emergency Contraception

Talking Points for Spokespersons Responding to Opposition

Opponents charge: Emergency contraception is in reality a form of abortion; one cannot prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

Suggested Responses:

No. Emergency contraceptive pills do not cause abortion; they work in several ways to prevent pregnancy. Depending on when in the menstrual cycle they are taken:

· emergency contraceptives can prevent or delay ovulation;

· it is possible that emergency contraceptives can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus, the event medical science defines as the beginning of a pregnancy, though research has not shown this conclusively; and

· emergency contraceptives cannot terminate an established pregnancy.


Opponents charge: Emergency contraception promotes irresponsibility and promiscuous lifestyles.

Suggested Responses:

People sometimes need emergency contraception even though they regularly use contraceptives. The need for emergency contraception arises from a variety of circumstances:

· when contraceptives fail to work properly, as when a condom breaks or a diaphragm or IUD becomes dislodged;

· when a chosen contraceptive method is not used correctly, as when a woman starts a new cycle of birth control pills late (sometimes because supplies are not immediately available) or a couple using natural family planning makes a mistake;

· when women are forced to have unprotected sex against their will; and

· when men and women fail to plan ahead.

In all these circumstances the responsible course of action is to use emergency contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

Emergency contraception can be a bridge to contraceptive information and services for those who need them and an opportunity to educate sexually active young adults about STDs and HIV/AIDS.

Opponents charge: Emergency contraception is targeted mainly at unmarried adolescents; its availability undermines parental authority and community morals.

Suggested Responses:

· There is no attempt to target adolescents.

· Women of all ages have occasional need for emergency contraception.

· Young women with little contraceptive experience tend to be at high risk of unintended pregnancy.

· Preventing adolescent pregnancy is a high priority; once unprotected intercourse has occurred, preventing an unwanted pregnancy should take priority.

Opponents charge: Emergency contraception is the same as the French abortion pill, RU486.

Suggested Responses:

· Unlike RU486, emergency contraceptives cannot disrupt an established pregnancy and cannot cause abortion.

· The pills used for emergency contraception are ordinary birth control pills. Most have been on the world market for over 30 years. They contain synthetic female hormones (estrogen and progestin), and they act by disrupting a woman’s reproductive cycle.

· RU486, whose generic name is mifepristone, represents an entirely new class of drugs known as antiprogestins. Mifepristone is approved for use in early abortion in a small number of countries. Its possible use as an emergency contraceptive is under study, but it has not been approved for this purpose in any country yet.