ARGENTINA —In a significant stride towards reproductive rights, Argentina has eliminated the prescription requirement for obtaining emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning-after pill.

The government views this change as a crucial step in removing barriers for individuals seeking to prevent unintended pregnancies.

The decision has been met with approval from feminist groups, who consider it a positive development in a country where the Catholic Church holds substantial influence. The move is seen as a sign of progress in expanding access to contraception.

However, pro-life campaigners have voiced their opposition, asserting that the decision conveys an unfavorable message.

Argentina’s health ministry has highlighted the measure as a means to address challenges faced by some individuals in accessing healthcare services, contraception supplies, and education, thereby helping to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Valeria Isla, director of sexual and reproductive health at the ministry, emphasized the significance of this change, stating, “This removes an important barrier to access. People can have this method of contraception as support before an emergency happens.”

Vanessa Gagliardi, leader of the feminist group Juntas y a la Izquierda, lauded the decision, noting that it would contribute to the “de-stigmatization” of the morning-after pill in a country where official data reveals that seven out of 10 adolescent pregnancies are unplanned.

On the other hand, the Argentine pro-life group DerguiXlaVida expressed concerns about the measure, accusing the government of promoting “abortive measures” and contending that it acknowledges the “failure of pregnancy prevention [and] sex education.”

This change marks another significant step in advancing reproductive rights in Argentina, a major and influential country in Latin America where the Catholic Church retains considerable power.

In 2020, the country legalized abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy, despite opposition from the Church, which had urged senators to reject the bill.

Previously, terminations were only permitted in cases of rape or when the mother’s health was at risk.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), emergency contraception pills, including the morning-after pill, when taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex, work by preventing the fertilization of the egg.

While most effective within 12 hours, they can still prevent pregnancy within the specified timeframe.

The WHO states that emergency contraception, including emergency contraceptive pills and copper-bearing intrauterine devices, can prevent approximately 95% of pregnancies when used within five days of intercourse.

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