[WATCH] Emergency contraception set to be available at Mater Dei for rape victims

Health minister Chris Fearne says emergency contraception will be made available at Mater Dei for rape victims, once it has been licensed by the Medicines Authority

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
28 October 2016, 9:55am
Emergency contraception will be made available for free at Mater Dei
Emergency contraception will be made available for free at Mater Dei

Video is unavailable at this time.

Emergency contraception will be made available at Mater Dei for free for rape victims, health minister Chris Fearne has confirmed.

Fearne told MaltaToday that once the pills have been licensed by the Medicines Authority, they will eventually be added to the government formulary list for medicines and be stocked at the national hospital. 

“Once it is licensed, pharmacies and doctors will be able to request that the pill be added to the government formulary. The request will then be analyzed by the Government’s Formulary List Advisory Committee, and if approved it will then be up to a health benefits board to decide whether there are enough public funds available to purchase it. However, in this case, the medicine is cheap so I don’t foresee a problem in this regard.”

The Medicines Authority ruled last week that emergency contraceptives containing the active ingredients Levonorgestrel and Ulipristal be made available over the counter. MA chairman Anthony Serracino Inglott said that the decision was based on the fact that the pill’s efficiency hinges greatly on it being ingested as quickly as possible. 

He later urged the health authorities to keep a stock of emergency contraception available at Mater Dei for rape victims. 

“Rape victims have a right to access emergency contraception at hospital. What if a woman is raped late at night? Will she have to search across Malta to find an open pharmacy, perhaps go to the airport pharmacy and hope that the person behind the counter isn’t a conscientious objector?”

The morning-after pill debate was sparked last June after a woman’s rights organisation filed a judicial protest to demand its importation to Malta, in what pro-life groups claimed was an attempt to legalise abortion. Following several heated sittings, MPs at a joint family, health and social affairs committee recommended that the pill should only be made available against a doctor’s prescription, leading hundreds of people to take to the streets in Valletta in protest. However, the Medicines Authority ultimately decided to ignore the MPs’ advice and ruled that the pill be made available over the counter.