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The Lothian Emergency Contraception Project in Scotland was a radical intervention in which women aged 16-29 were given 5 packs of emergency contraception (EC) to keep at home. We use survey and qualitative interview data to describe how women used the project packs and their views of advance supplies. The women's accounts suggest that concerns that eased access to emergency contraception will lead to repeated use and risky sex appear to be largely unfounded. Women were pleased to be offered the packs, which were reported as having practical advantages and also sparing them the difficulty of negotiating a sometimes awkward consultation. Respondents explained how they used their packs of EC and in their accounts used justifications, repetition and distancing to emphasise that they would not take risks with contraception or sexually transmitted infections. We interpret the data in the light of the observation that EC has an anomalous role in contraception and the work of applied linguists Candlin and Lucas who have demonstrated the difficulties inherent in the family planning consultation. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Social Science and Medicine

Publication Date





1767 - 1779