Peru will soon offer the morning-after pill free of charge to women across the country.
Health Minister Patricia Garcia announced the much-anticipated decision on Tuesday, noting that health clinics will begin providing the emergency contraceptive in 30 days.
“This represents a small victory for Peruvian women,” said Brenda Alvarez, a lawyer with the feminist sexual and reproductive health organization Promsex, in a statement. “We are facing a decision that seeks to vindicate sexual and reproductive rights of women in this country.”
This month, the high court ruled that the Ministry of Health must make the pill free and accessible throughout the South American nation, particularly in impoverished areas. This, however, isn’t the first time the decision has been made.
In 2006, after years of campaigning by women’s and human's rights groups, the country made emergency contraception available without charge. However, the ordinance came with wide pushback from conservatives, prompting authorities to stop the program in 2009. While the morning-after pill was still available for purchase at private pharmacies, it was no longer broadly accessible or free. A 2014 report in Popular Science also found that many of the pills being sold were fake.
Since then, activists have reignited the fight, demanding that the morning-after pill be available in Peru, where abortion is banned.
A new report from the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization showing that the morning-after pill does not induce abortion as well as growing concern in the region around the Zika virus helped pave the way for the critical decision to make the pill free again.
Emergency contraception is already offered complimentary in most countries throughout South America.