Women are being urged to stock up on the morning-after pill as the party season approaches.
The campaign, launched by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, is attempting to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that traditionally increases at this time of year.
They advise that women may find it difficult to obtain the drug over the holiday period, so are offering emergency contraception free of charge in the post to women who fill in an online form and talk to a nurse over the phone.
Bur critics have slammed the campaign, Pro-Life charity Life said that it encourages drunken partygoers to have risky unprotected sex.
Spokeswoman Michela Aston told Metro: “What a sad state of affairs that overChristmas BPAS is anticipating and encouraging unwise sexual behaviour by enabling people to stockpile the morning-after pill.”
Emergency contraception is effective for the first 72 hours after sex, but is more likely to work the sooner it is taken. It has been available for several years directly from pharmacies and walk-in clinics, but fears over the £25 price-tag and holiday closures could discourage women from getting hold of it.
Tracey Forsyth, one of the contraceptive specialist nurses working at BPAS, said: “We know that women often do not take the morning-after pill after unprotected sex. They may not think their risk of pregnancy is high, and the cost, inconvenience or embarrassment of obtaining it may put them off.
“Having it at home means you are much more likely to take it as soon as you need it.
“Sometimes women worry that requesting the pill in advance makes it look like you are planning on taking chances.
“In fact the opposite is true – making sure you have a back-up to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy is making sure nothing is left to chance.”
Women will be sent the drug in the mail, with a supply of condoms, once their medical history and understanding of emergency contraception have been checked by the nurse on the telephone.