Some 300 people protested in Valletta this morning over a parliamentary committee's recommendation for the morning-after pill not to be sold over-the-counter.

During a march organised by youth-led NGO Gender Equality Malta (GEM), those supporting the introduction of the emergency contraceptive waved placards as they chanted calls for women to be allowed to make decisions without any medical professional interfering.

“Requiring a prescription defeats the purpose of emergency contraception in a situation where time is of the essence. We’re not satisfied with the parliamentary committee’s suggestion that this should be sold against prescription,” GEM president Mel McElhatton told this newspaper.

Addressing the crowd, Ms McElhatton insisted that women should be free to take decisions about their bodies, a statement that was met by loud cheers from those present.

The debate on whether the morning-after pill should be made available made headlines earlier this year after the Women’s Rights Foundation filed a judicial protest against the State calling for this to be licenced.

A parliamentary committee concluded last week that the final decision on this should be taken by the Medicines Authority but recommended that the authority takes into consideration a number of suggestions.

These mainly included the contraceptive only being available against a doctor’s prescription and doctors being allowed to act as conscientious objectors and refuse to prescribe it.

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