Intended for healthcare professionals

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Wait until the morning after

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 13 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:116
  1. Judy Jones, freelance journalist

    Journalists love stories with “legs”—the ones that run and run, colonising vast tracts of column inches in the letters and comment pages, not just news sections. The one about Levonelle (who dreams up these daft names?) has already shown strong enough form for inclusion in this highly prized category.

    General practitioners will recognise the name, of course. To almost everyone else, it's the “morning after pill,” or any number of alternatives conceived to fit a headline or to ascribe a moral loading—the “next day” pill, the “day after” pill, an emergency contraceptive, and an abortion pill.

    Nomenclature aside, why do we find the saga of the morning after pill so compelling? Well, the ingredients are guaranteed to stir our most raw emotions—fear, guilt, revulsion, and desire—in varying measure. There's illicit unprotected sex, for starters; fear of discovery and of accidental pregnancy; and a magic potion that makes unwanted embryos vanish—just like that. While that's bubbling away in …

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