Lead data journalist

Following a campaign to abolish the consultations at pharmacies that are required in order to get the morning after pill, YouGov finds that women are more likely to want to keep the consultations, while men want them scrapped

Last week the reproductive rights charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) made headlines with their campaign to make emergency contraception more affordable and easily available.

One of the cornerstones of their new campaign is to abolish the requirement that women looking to purchase the morning after pill at a chemists must first have a consultation with a pharmacist, a state of affairs BPAS think is "unnecessary and embarrassing".

New YouGov research reveals that the public is evenly split on the campaign’s aim to abolish such consultations. Just over four in ten people (42%) believe they should be abolished, while the same proportion (42%) say they should be kept.

A further 5% of people believe that the morning after pill should not be made available to women at all.

These numbers belie a fundamental difference between the genders, though. Men support allowing women to access the morning after pill without a consultation, while women are more likely to want to keep the consultation.

Fully 45% of men say no consultation should be required to get the morning after pill, compared to 35% who think that a consultation with pharmacist should continue. By contrast, almost half of women (49%) oppose morning after pills being made available without a consultation, a full ten percentage points more than the 39% who believe the consultation is unnecessary.

Women's support differs depending on age. Women aged between 18 and 39 are pretty much evenly split on whether pharmacy consultations should be required or not but those aged 40 and over are much more likely to want them to continue.

The cost of the pill

One of the other key points of BPAS's campaign centres around the price of the morning after pill. When bought over the counter it can cost as much as £30, a far higher rate than on the continent.

Approaching a third (32%) of women think the morning after pill should be free, while over half (52%) believe it should continue to carry a charge. The median cost suggested by women for the morning after pill is £8.

While fewer men said that the morning after pill should be free (23%), they were more likely than women to believe it should be available at a lower price. Among the 60% of men who think the morning after pill should continue to carry a cost, the median suggested charge is £5.

Photo: PA

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