Emergency contraception in low-income areas

Women in low-income areas in the US are more likely to be given incorrect sexual and reproductive health and rights advice about emergency contraception than those in wealthier neighbourhoods, a new study has revealed.

Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine researchers, led by Dr Tracey Wilkinson, a fellow in the institutions' Division of General Pediatrics and a paediatrician, analysed the results of queries to commercial pharmacies in several states.

In 19 per cent of calls - which were made by female members of the team posing as adolescents who had engaged in unprotected sex - it was incorrectly claimed access to emergency contraception was unavailable in all circumstances.

Only 11 pharmacies provided the correct age at which girls can obtain the product over the counter - 17 and above - with every other establishment giving a higher age.

Furthermore, these problems occurred with greater frequency in low-income areas than more affluent ones. Dr Wilkinson stated,

"The finding that misinformation regarding emergency contraception access is more common in neighbourhoods with the highest teen pregnancy rates suggests that targeted consumer or provider education for consumers and pharmacy staff may be necessary."