Health Minister Supports Morning-After Pill

July 23, 2004

PUBLIC Health Minister María delRocío Sáenz said this week she wouldsupport the distribution of the so-called“morning-after pill” in Costa Rica,although no proposals for its commercializationhere have been made.“We cannot speak of any technical orlegal argument to prevent its registry,”Sáenz said at President Abel Pacheco’sweekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday.The controversial emergency-contraceptionpill can be used up to 72 hoursafter sexual intercourse to reduce thechance of pregnancy. Because the pill istaken after intercourse, some consider itabortion.Scientists have not come to an agreementon the issue, Pacheco said atTuesday’s meeting. Some say it is abortion,ending a life that began at intercourse,while others say it is not.“As I am Catholic, if it is abortion, Icannot support it,” the President said.Roman Catholic Church representativesworldwide have expressed oppositionto the pill. However, the WorldHealth Organization (WHO) recommendsits use, and it has been approved in theLatin American countries of Mexico,Honduras, Chile and Nicaragua, accordingto Sáenz.Sáenz said the Ministry of Healthconsiders the pill contraception and notabortion, and supports its use after unprotected,violent or non-consensual sex.No proposal for the commercial distributionof the morning after pill in CostaRica has been presented to the government,Sáenz said, but if and when it is,the pill will follow the same registrationprocess of all medications in Costa Rica,which takes about one month.

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