An excellent but disturbing article recently appeared in the Otago University student mag Critic written by chief reporter, Josie Cochrane, about yet another health-care professional who apparently seems to think he has the right to pass judgment and offer “advice” on the sex lives of customers.

According to the article, “ECP Struggles: Pharmacy Leaves Women Feeling Judged,” a young woman seeking emergency contraception at a Dunedin pharmacy was told the “best method of contraception was to hold an aspirin pill between my knees”. The woman has complained about how she was treated to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The Otago Daily Times followed up Critic’s article with one of its own, “Complaint to HDC Over Treatment”, giving Critic due credit – oh, and referring to the Emergency Contraceptive Pill as “ESP”??

Readers who keep up with reproductive justice issues may recall a related case out of Blenheim last year of a doctor who refused to prescribe the birth control pill because the young woman seeking it hadn’t yet done her “reproductive duty”; and instead advised she use the “rhythm method” of contraception.

Two prochoice activists, Helen Wilson and Alison McCulloch, followed up later in the year with a helen-alison-copyprotest outside the clinic as part of the Prochoice Highway tour, which made it into the Marlborough Express. (Sorry about the poor quality pic! Photo of a computer screen. The sign reads “Free Condoms! Women’s Bodies; Women’s Choice: ‘Rhythm’ (and blues) not for us!”)

How You Can Help

Some readers may already know that a group of pro-choicers is working on a project aimed at shining the light on “conscientious objectors” like these, who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need. It’s called “My Decision” and will comprise a website with a database of health-care professionals who refuse to provide certain reproductive health-care services, be they doctors, pharmacists, crisis pregnancy counseling centres … whoever. Users will be able to confidentially submit stories to the site and see what providers have been reported by other users or by the providers themselves. Conscientious objectors can provide information on what services they do and do not offer. It’ll be a bit like the old “hot and cold files” that women’s health advocates used to have, only online.

The My Decision website and is still being built, but in the meantime we would very much like to hear from readers who know of people or places that restrict reproductive healthcare access. And if you’re somewhat web confident and would like to help moderate the site, please let the group know. You can email your stories or offers of help to: mydecisionnzgmailcom