A former soap star has written a blog complaining about her treatment in a pharmacy when attempting to obtain emergency contraception
Writer and former Home and Away actor Christie Hayes wrote on the popular parenting and women’s site Mamamia that after she and her husband had a mishap with a condom – “as we all know, they aren’t always gonna work” – she asked him to go to the pharmacy to get her EC the next day while she stayed at home with their children.
“He wasn’t allowed to,” she wrote. “They wouldn’t sell it to him. I’m sure any woman in Australia who has asked her husband/partner to buy this for them was met with the same amount of frustration and outrage I was.
“So, let me get this straight: we drill into men that it’s their job to be as responsible as a woman when it comes to safe sex. For instance, to always carry and use a condom in order to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
“Yet when it comes to being responsible AFTER sex, the blame lies solely with a woman?
“All I could think was that it must be because a pharmacist had to disclose information to me personally; a duty of care. There was no other logical reason. Right? Wrong.”
The next day Hayes presented to the pharmacy again for EC, 48 hours after the contraceptive mishap.
“I had a feeling the tone of the interaction might change, but I decided to give the pharmacist the benefit of the doubt,” she wrote.
“I mean, not everyone lives in this judgmental ridiculous notion that women don’t have the right to emergency contraception should there be concerns about conceiving? Wrong again.”
“The pharmacist cheerfully asked me how I was, to which I cheerfully replied I was great thanks, albeit freezing, and I needed to buy the emergency contraception please. I deliberately used those words too. I wanted to keep in perspective what I was purchasing.
“Well, didn’t that tune change. She walked away to another woman, started whispering, “She needs the morning after pill” and as they both stood there hush hush-ing, I was seriously close to pointing out to them that it wasn’t a library, they didn’t need to whisper.”
Hayes says she was not asked any questions about whether she had used EC before, whether the medication was for her, when her last period was, or advised on adverse events such as ectopic pregnancy.
“On that note, anybody can walk into a pharmacy and purchase a massive packet of Panadol with the intention of suiciding,” she wrote.
“A lot of over-the-counter medications used incorrectly can cause fatality, that’s what medicine is. So once more, I’m not sure of the reasoning a man cannot buy the morning after pill. As established, any girl can, and she can give it to any girl to use instead.
“In a nutshell, all that was passed on with a judgmental smile was this: ‘It’s just one tablet and you drink it with lots of water. It’s best consumed within 12 hours of the unprotected sex’.”
At the time of writing the article had attracted dozens of comments, including from readers who say they are pharmacists.
“As a pharmacist I can tell you it is technically illegal for the pharmacist to physically hand the ‘pharmacist only’ medication to someone other than the person who intends to use it, let alone the minefield with which handing out the emergency contraception pill to a partner entails,” wrote Ashley Durrant.
“Please stop telling us how to carry out our professional duties, and respect the fact that we do our jobs will the sole purpose of caring for, and doing the best by our patients and community.”
“I am unsure as to the circumstances but supplying this medication to your husband would usually have been appropriate,” a reader called Consultant Pharmacist wrote in the article’s comment section.
“Levonorgestrel has good evidence for effectiveness up to five days after intercourse. Antibiotics will not affect its effectiveness and I am doubtful there is any causal relationship with ectopic pregnancy (package inserts tend to emphasize any events that might lead to litigation against the drug company however spurious).
“The main problems with inappropriate supply of this medication are in circumstances where the patient is appropriately covered by contraception and does not require it. Not sure if the pharmacist assessed this.
“I am sorry about your experience. Women should have ready access to this important medication in a professional, non-judgemental interaction.”
On Twitter, pharmacist John Cook said Hayes’ story was worth discussing further in pharmacy.