When filmmaker Vaishnavi Sundar set out to buy an ECP one night in an effort to find the effect of the ban that is reportedly in place for over 10 years now, she was aghast. “I got the same reply. Don’t you understand; it is not available or worse, get abusive.”
ECPs are used to avoid an unwanted pregnancy after an intercourse. After they were made legally available in 2002, the TN’s drug controller seized stocks worth Rs 50 lakh from Chennai’s pharmacies because they thought these pills were meant for abortion in 2006.
Recently, after her blog on the experience went viral, Vaishnavi decided to take it up as a petition on jhatkaa.com, where so far it has received more than 1500 signatures. She says, “I also spoke to many women who had sourced it through that one pharmacy they knew sold it. Many others got it sourced from those travelling from other cities. It is a violation of women’s rights. The ECP is a relief to rape victims?”
Rachita Taneja, campaign manager, Jhatkaa, says that though doubts were raised over its indiscriminate use, when available over the counter, it still doesn’t merit a ban.
GR Ravindranath, general secretary, Doctors Association for Social Equality, says that there was no need for a ban – be it abortion pills or ECPs. “At the same time, their sale should be regulated through prescription; the dose and right duration are crucial. Users must also be aware of the pros and cons of the pill,” he says.
S Abdul Khader, Drugs Controller, Tamil Nadu, while denying that there is a ban, says, “It can be sold to someone who has a prescription. There is absolutely no ban on the pills, as long as they are adhering to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act,” he concluded.