The effect on use of making emergency contraception available free of charge

Contraception. 2012 Oct;86(4):366-9. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.02.018. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Background: Cost is a barrier to use of emergency contraception (EC). Since 2008, EC has been available free of charge without restriction in pharmacies throughout Scotland. A survey of EC use among women requesting abortion in 2010 allows comparison of use reported in earlier surveys, when EC was only available on prescription and when EC was available from the pharmacy but at a cost.

Study design: A questionnaire survey about knowledge of the availability of free EC from pharmacies, and its use to prevent the index pregnancy, was performed among 204 women requesting abortion in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Results: Seventy percent of 204 respondents (n=143) knew that EC was available free from pharmacies; 22 (11%) had used it in the cycle in which conception occurred. EC use was not influenced by knowledge of its availability free of charge. Women from affluent areas were significantly more likely to have used EC to try to prevent the pregnancy than counterparts from less affluent areas (p=.041).

Conclusions: Neither availability from the pharmacy nor removal of a charge for EC has increased its use among women having an abortion in Scotland.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Community Pharmacy Services* / economics
  • Community Pharmacy Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / administration & dosage*
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / economics*
  • Drug Costs
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Patient Medication Knowledge / economics
  • Pharmacies
  • Pregnancy
  • Scotland
  • Social Change
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Postcoital