Peru’s Constitutional Court says Ministry of Health cannot sell morning-after pill


Peru’s Constitutional Court has unanimously ruled that the government cannot sell the morning-after pill.  The decision came in response to a request by Minister of Health, Oscar Ugarte, who asked for clarification of the previous ruling that the pill could not be distributed free of charge.

Speaking on Peruvian radio, Justice Ernesto Alvarez said, “The State cannot participate in the sale or the free distribution of this pill” because it cannot be “proven that this medicine does not have an abortifacient nature.”

Alvarez explained that the court reached the conclusion that the pill’s abortifacient potential exists regardless of whether or not it is sold or given away.  “The court has not found any basis that could decisively establish that it does not have an abortifacient nature.”  For this reason, he added, the State cannot participate either in the sale or in the distribution of the morning-after pill and must exclude it as a valid tool for family planning.”

Regarding the question of what to do with the previously manufactured pills, Alvarez answered that, “The legal advisors of the Ministry of Health have a variety of possibilities within the framework of the law.”

Last weekend, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima lamented that the Ministry of Health was discussing whether or not to sell the pill in order to skirt the high court’s ruling prohibiting the distribution of the drug for free, instead of looking for ways to improve the health of the poor.

“It is sad that our health officials are discussing whether to distribute the morning-after pill to the poor for 10 cents or 20, instead of helping them to stay healthy. Provide health care for our poor people! The Constitutional Court has had the courage to confront this loss of values, we must take the path of promoting values, the first of which is life,” the cardinal said.