Editorial: A healthier way
IN recent years the medical profession has been telling us more and more about the benefits of a change to a healthier lifestyle.
Doctors counsel us to eat a balanced diet, get exercise, stop smoking, cut down on alcohol and caffeine consumption, and get proper rest and relaxation.
These measures, they say, in many cases can be just as efficacious as taking prescribed medicine - the answer to many medical problems is not found in a pill bottle.
It is ironic then that a ‘medicine’ designed not to enhance life but rather to prevent and even destroy it will be available soon in this country without even a doctor’s prescription.
From January women will be able to buy the ‘morning-after pill’, Prostinor-2, over the counter after speaking to a pharmacist.
That outcome has been rightly branded by Bishop Anthony Fisher as “cop-out” and an “easy way out” to deal with the problem of unwanted pregnancy.
The AMA has admitted that sexual health counselling needs to be done “in the confines and sanctity of the GP consulting room, not over the counter at the pharmacy”.
Easy access to the “morning-after pill” not only removes the requirement for proper counselling and advice from a doctor, there are also no safeguards in place to prevent women using the drug - a huge dose of the hormone levonorgestrel - regularly to their detriment.
And, as Bishop Fisher points out, if use of the drug becomes more common, “it will leave many women with a permanent sense of unease ... because they will never know if they actually were pregnant”.
Instead of offering a pill as the solution to what many would say is just another medical problem, we should, as Bishop Fisher says, be looking at the whole way we educate people in sexuality and relationships.
Lifestyle advice, especially for young people, should include proper sex education that gives them a sense of self-esteem and not just access to emergency contraception.