FDA approves over-the-counter birth control pill

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale of nonprescription oral contraceptive pills at pharmacies and other venues.

Opill, produced by Irish pharmaceutical giant Perrigo, will be available over-the-counter early next year online and in stores across the United States.

The pill was first approved as a prescription drug in 1973. The FDA says that taking the drug daily increases the effectiveness of the contraception, and is safe and effective if taken as directed.

US divided over abortion

Abortion is a divisive issue in the US. Calls have been growing for an over-the-counter birth control pill as many Republicans are restricting abortions.

Abortion in the US: Fighting for rights state by state

In June last year, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established abortion as a constitutional right. Whether to restrict abortion is now entrusted to each state.

A number of states, most of them led by Republican governors, are moving to impose restrictions on abortions.

Abortion rights rally in Washington in October, 2022

Japan to trial over-the-counter sale of emergency contraceptives

Japan's health ministry plans to allow over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives on a trial basis as early as this summer.

A prescription is currently needed for so-called morning after pills, which are considered to be effective at preventing pregnancies when taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

The decision came after the ministry's panel on pharmaceutical distribution in Japan asked for public comment last year and found that more than 90 percent of respondents were in favor of over-the-counter sales of such pills.

But critics warn it could encourage irresponsible or abusive use of the drug.

Under the plan, pharmacies will be selected based on their experience dispensing prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive. Pharmacists will be required to complete training before being allowed to sell the drug over the counter.

This marks the first time the ministry will conduct such a trial before deciding whether to approve over-the-counter sales of a prescription drug.

Morning after pill that will be sold over-the-counter in Japan

UK empowers women to take control of their fertility

UN: Half of world's pregnancies are unintended

A United Nations survey shows that half of all pregnancies around the world are unintended, and the numbers are likely to rise.

The UN Population Fund, UNFPA, reported in March last year that on average, 121 million unintended pregnancies occur annually.

The report says 61 percent of unintended pregnancies end in abortion, and unsafe abortions hospitalize around 7 million women a year globally.

The report also cites data showing that women who choose to go through with their unintended pregnancy are more likely to suffer postpartum depression.

The UNFPA points out that more unintended pregnancies occur in countries that have wider gender inequality.

The agency is calling for greater access to contraception methods that suit women's needs, as well as education to raise awareness.

The report also notes that female refugees in areas of conflict are at higher risk of becoming victims of sexual violence, resulting in unintended pregnancies.