Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand

27 January 2016                                                                                  Media Release

ALRANZ Applauds Over-the-Counter ‘Pill’ Sales as a Good Start

Medsafe’s decision to allow limited sales of oral contraceptives without a prescription is a good start that must eventually lead to unlimited access, the president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ), Terry Bellamak, said today.

In its decision, posted online on 22 January, the Medicines Classification Committee recommended reclassifying the oral contraceptives as ‘restricted medicine’ instead of ‘prescription medicine’, but rejected unlimited pharmacy sales. Instead pharmacy sales will be restricted to women who have previously been prescribed an oral contraceptive within the last 3 years.

“All women deserve to manage their own fertility free of paternalism by the medical establishment,” Ms Bellamak said. “So while we applaud this step, it’s disappointing that access to women who haven’t already visited their GP is still being denied.”

Keeping the Pill chained to the prescription pad flies in the face of evidence showing it is one of the safest medications available, and a hugely popular and effective method of birth control, Ms. Bellamak said. Pharmacy access without these kinds of restrictions has already been shown to work in New Zealand for emergency contraception, so it makes no sense not to expand that to the Pill.

Past president of ALRANZ, Dame Margaret Sparrow, said she hoped the success of the new classification would prompt the committee to eventually widen access further. She said as well as oral contraceptives, women needed better access to other forms as well.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) 2015 report, released in November, showed that 54 percent of the women who had abortions in 2014 were not using any form of contraception.

“The ASC focused on the lack of funding for long-acting reversible methods (known as LARC’s), but ALRANZ believes all methods need be much more easily available, including oral contraception,” Dame Margaret said.

To read the Medsafe Committee’s decision, click here: http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/class/mccMin24Nov2015.htm

To read ALRANZ’s submission, click here (Links to a downloadable .docx file) 

To read Dame Margaret Sparrow’s submission, click here:


For more information, contact:

Terry Bellamak, National President

Dame Margaret Sparrow, National Executive Member and Former President



Addendum: Some coverage of the decision from Stuff is here.