Possibly if you’re under the age of 35, you might not know this but one of the leaders in making condoms more easily available to the people of Ireland includes the now gone Virgin Megastore on Aston Quay. Sure, there had been protests, and condom trains and all that, but when I came to Dublin first, the Virgin Megastore had a condom counter and it was one of the few places you could get condoms without necessarily facing into raised eyebrows and discrete glances at your wedding ring finger. Times have changed and now practically every grocery store in the country sells them, albeit at a price.
Boots yesterday announced that they would be making the morning after pill available over the counter in their stores in Ireland. It comes at a cost, yes, and the figures I heard bandied around include 45E. In wnb measurement terms, that’s at least 2 CDs worth of money, with two bottles of diet 7-Up thrown in for good measure. It’s not cheap. It is, however, less expensive than going to the doctor and anyway, and possibly more importantly Boots opening hours are a little more consumer friendly. They include Sundays, for example which is very possibly the day – anecdotally – there might be most call for access to emergency contraception
Somewhat unexpectedly, this has done more than raise a few eyebrows. In one way I am surprised, in another, it’s just another demoralising feature of Ireland which is that social progress, particularly with respect to the position of women in Irish society, has to be applied from beyond Irish borders. Sometimes, by commercial companies looking to turn a profit. Your right, as a woman, to emergency contraception in this country has just been made a whole lot easier by a UK company who are going to charge you quite a bit of money for the privilege. And yet, I am glad they are doing it. Because a story like this appeared in an Irish newspaper as recently as August 2010. Less than six months ago.
One woman said she had to travel to Cork the following day after she was refused the contraception at SouthDoc in Tralee and couldn’t find any other GP surgery that was open on a Sunday.
For anyone wondering, there are branches of Boots in Killarney and Tralee in Kerry by the way. And according to the Examiner, SouthDoc did not comment on the story at the time.
Whether you need or want emergency contraception or not should really be a matter for you individually. There are any number of reasons women might want it and they can’t all just be summed up as “only women who are sluts would need it anyway”. But then, that’s the same excuse as some people give against women going on the pill in general. If you were a good girl, you wouldn’t need it. And “you should have been using condoms anyway”. Those things split, you know. If you don’t know, then perhaps you’re not qualified to pontificate at people how they should behave in their privacy of their own lives.
In summary, it can be said that I’m favour of what Boots has decided to do and it will have the effect of dragging Irish society kicking and screaming into a place where a lot of people wish it was already – where we don’t necessarily judge people so harshly for making mistakes and where we don’t necessarily care what they do next door – and that is no bad thing. It is sad, however, that it is necessary in this day and age to force issues like this.
The category most likely to show up at a family planning clinic on a Monday morning looking for their morning-after pill are young, single women who were out on the tear over the weekend.
This is because young, single men cannot get pregnant. When they can I daresay the stats will change somewhat.
So if you want to reduce demand both for abortion and the morning-after pill — encourage committed relationships.
No. If encouraging condom use isn’t going to work, I don’t see how encouraging committed relationships will be more effective. I’m all for them myself but I face the reality that not everyone wants them at a given time.
This is probably what was really driving my pals on Twitter bananas, the suspicion that behind any concern or worries about demand for the morning-after pill is moralism.
No. What drives me bananas is David assuming he can compel me to have the same moral standards as he has. I don’t. I don’t, for example, think David has any right to say whether wider society should have access to emergency contraception or not; only whether he wishes to avail of it or not.
Any sane person would opt for a society in which there is little or no demand. Demand can only be high where there is a high level of self-defeating, self-destructive behaviour.
But restricting supply and access, to date, has been completely ineffective. I’m not sure what the answer is; I’ve long felt that demystification at an early age and some education would go a long way towards improving things – it certainly seems to work in France, Germany and the Netherlands anyway. Why it doesn’t work so much in Ireland and the UK is open to debate.
Either way, again, my view is that David Quinn is entitled to his opinions, but not to compel others to behave by them in private matters. And sexual activity is largely a personal concern, not a social concern.