Women are Being Shamed for Buying the Morning After Pill

Victims of sexual assault are blamed for wearing short dresses and teenagers are being publicly humiliated in front of other customers. Here are your stories

Alice Tapper

Women (and PAYING customers) are being shamed for accessing healthcare.

In this week's FYT (the weekly news segment we run on Instagram stories) we covered the story of Boots levying a 'sexist surcharge' on its pricing for the emergency contraceptive pill, better known as the morning-after pill, revealed after Boots promoted a 50% off Black Friday deal.

How much are they charging?

Boots was charging £8 for the pill over the Black Friday weekend, but the normal price is double that at £15.99. Many report the pill costs significantly more in other regions across England. Emergency contraception is free on prescription and from some pharmacists (always ask or contact your GP if you can). It's also free from all pharmacies in Wales and Scotland if you're registered with a GP.

How are Boots justifying the cost?

Boots says the price reflects “the expert clinical advice and consultation that we give with these services” and were in line with other high street pharmacies."

Your thoughts

As always, I asked for your thoughts and experiences and what I received was alarming.

Amidst a handful of positive stories, the majority have been accounts of shame and humiliation. As opposed to 'expert clinical advice', victims of sexual assault are blamed for wearing short dresses and teenagers are being publically humiliated in front of other customers.

A number of pharmacies have been mentioned but Boots more than any other. This is likely a function of the fact that Boots is the largest pharmacy group in the UK (33.5% share) with around 10x the number of pharmacies than Superdrug but nonetheless, there is clearly a problem here. The experiences shared also align with a personal experience of my own as a teenager.

Women (and PAYING customers) are being shamed for accessing healthcare.

I'm sharing your responses here and calling on Boots to urgently look into why this is happening, whether they can really justify the extra cost given a clear lack of training/'expert clinical advice' and asking how they intend to improve their service in the future. I've shared this with the press teams of Boots and Superdrug (who has been mentioned on one occasion) and will update this post if I hear back.

Please note - I know there are brilliant pharmacists out there who wouldn't dream of treating women like this. I'm holding the national pharmacy groups to account, not pharmacists.  

'These things happen if you wear a short dress'

'They were so rude to her...fast forward 16 years and my godson is nearly finishing high school'

'made me feel like I'd done something wrong'

'Expert clinical advice is a patronising telling off'

'they grilled my friend and made her feel embarrassed'

'Well do you want it or do you want a baby?!'

'he was a nasty piece of work and shouted at me for texting'

'Boots insisted on calling my partner and interrogating her'

Some stories of kindness...