Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Should the contraceptive pill be available without prescription? No

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 24 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a3056
  1. Sarah Jarvis, women’s health spokesperson
  1. 1Royal College of General Practitioners, London SW7 1PU
  1. Sarah.jarvis{at}

    Two areas in London are piloting over the counter oral contraceptives. Daniel Grossman (doi:10.1136/bmj.a3044) argues that the policy should be widely adopted but Sarah Jarvis believes it is the wrong approach to reducing unwanted pregnancy

    The United Kingdom is top of a league in western Europe—and a very undesirable first place it is, too. The league table is that for teenage pregnancies, with rates of teenage motherhood in the UK, at 15%, around twice those of Germany (8%), three times those of France (6%), and almost four times those of Sweden (4%).1 2

    The implementation of a national teenage pregnancy strategy in 1999 has gone some way to reversing the rising trend of teenage pregnancies, but only by about 2% a year in the first five years after it was implemented.3 As with other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, however, the UK still ranks far behind the United States, where 22% of women have a child before the age of 20.2

    Nevertheless, action still needs to be taken …

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