The largest women's health services provider in Britain is offering women a gift over the Christmas season that has angered some pro-life groups in the country: free morning-after pills.
With a photo of the word “sex” lit up in Christmas tree lights on its website, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which boasts on its website that it is Britain's largest single abortion provider, is offering women a chance to get free morning-after pills and condoms sent to their homes after they answer a few questions to ascertain their “medical suitability” after a 15-minute medical consultation.
A spokesperson said the reason BPAS picked December to hand out free morning-after pills was not to anger religious conservatives, but because “we see more women with an unplanned pregnancy in January than any other time of the year,” according to the BPAS website.
“We don't want you to be one of them. Getting hold of the 'Morning After Pill' over Christmas can be difficult so it's useful to have it before you need it.”
However, pro-life groups say that not only is the campaign “vulgar,” according to Josephine Quintaville of the ProLife Alliance, but it will lead to other problems.
“It trivializes women’s sexuality,” Quintaville said, according to The Christian Institute. “This scheme isn’t about making women responsible; it will lead to them exposing themselves to more risks.”
In addition, pro-life charity Life condemned the BPAS's plan because it encouraged “risky” sexual activity.
“If a woman has the morning-after pill at home 'just in case' she may be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than she would normally -- particularly over the festive period with the associated increase in alcohol consumption,” a spokeswoman said, according to the Agence France-Presse.
BPAS officials say their intentions are about making the pill more available to women who cannot afford it (one pill costs approximately $39), lack access, or are too embarrassed.
“They may not think their risk of pregnancy is high and the cost, inconvenience or embarrassment of obtaining it may put them off,” said Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS.
In 2010, the number of abortions in Britain had fallen for the second year in a row, reported the Daily Mail. Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of The Family Planning Association, credited increased access to contraception services.
“We can see that investing in contraceptive services and making women aware of their different contraceptive choices through national campaigns has a positive impact on unplanned pregnancy,” Bentley said.