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MAP(ping) women’s control

Picture suffering a medical emergency in the middle of the night. You know that there’s a pill that will sort out this emergency in no time at all. It is a pill that is available instantly, over-the-counter, pretty much the world over – except, that is, where you happen to live.

Here, you’re legally required to make a doctor’s appointment and to argue your case for a prescription, before you may use this pill. By the time you manage to achieve this, said pill will probably be useless and your medical emergency unsolveable.

This is exactly what is happening with the morning after pill (MAP) ‘debate’, which in Parliament took a turn that would be hilarious – if only it weren’t infuriatingly patronising, illogical, impractical and unacceptable.

This is exactly what is happening with the morning after pill (MAP) ‘debate’, which in Parliament took a turn that would be hilarious – if only it weren’t infuriatingly patronising, illogical, impractical and unacceptable.

Because, after a ridiculous (and pretty illegal, if you ask me) amount of waffling around trying their best to find a way to make the MAP illegal, the powers-that-be figured out that they’d run out of excuses. So yes, the pill will likely find its way in Malta legally, mostly thanks to the efforts of the Women’s Rights Foundation.

But wait. Surely there’s something we can do to screw this up? Of course there is, let’s make sure that the whole purpose of the MAP – which is to take it as soon as possible after the fact, so to speak – is rendered null by making it available only upon prescription.

Quite apart from the fact that this is a total insult to pharmacists, who should be trusted to know their job, I fail to see the logic behind this. The only reason that springs to the eye, sadly, is a desire to control something that should not be controlled.

If I were to be having a particularly feminist day, I’d hazard to add that it’s also a mystifying reluctance to allow women full control over their bodies. And isn’t it sad, that I needed to use the word ‘allow’ in that sentence?

I also find myself trying to understand the practicalities of how this ‘MAP upon prescription only’ lark will work, and failing utterly. Are they encouraging us – and doctors – to opt for bulk prescriptions, to be filled in beforehand? Because otherwise, I really can’t see how this would work in practice. Getting a medical prescription entails finding an available doctor and taking time off work to actually visit. I can just see the situation unfolding at a dozen offices across the country:

“Boss, I’m dashing out for an hour, I need to get to the doctor’s.”

“Hope you’re not too unwell. Will you go out on sick leave?”

“Nah, just recovering from a good night and need to get my MAP on.”

Totally makes sense, right?

Then there are the actual logistics of the medical appointment. Unless a GP is being required to carry out a whole gynae and medical exam before signing off the prescription – which is pretty impossible within the required timeframes – I don’t see how said prescription is supposed to help protect the woman’s health. A pharmacist is more than qualified to ask the obvious questions and use his/her judgement.

Unless a GP is being required to carry out a whole gynae and medical exam before signing off the prescription – which is pretty impossible within the required timeframes – I don’t see how said prescription is supposed to help protect the woman’s health.

If the medical appointment is being made a requirement for other reasons – such as prying into sexual history – well, then that opens a totally different can of worms, doesn’t it? Also, how very prurient and how very Maltese, for some stranger to get all interested into what an adult and consenting woman has gotten up to in the privacy of her bed.

And then you get Health Minister Chris Fearne blowing his trumpet because he is trying to sell it to us that all the stakeholders “are of the same opinion” and that he “is proud” of the progress made.

In common parlance, LOL.

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