A so-called ‘contraceptive’ pill which could work up to a month after unprotected sex is a “contradiction in terms”, critics say.
Researchers have published a journal article calling for such a pill to be developed, saying it is scientifically possible but politically difficult.
Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship said this would be “abortion not contraception” because it would destroy an embryo rather than prevent a conception.
He said it would effectively be “the deregulation of early abortion, by making it available over the counter”.
He also pointed to the risk of increasing sexually transmitted infections, and the risk of exposing women to sexual abuse.
And Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said researchers are essentially calling for the development of an abortion pill.
He said: “To call a drug a contraceptive when it is designed and intended to be used after intercourse and potentially after fertilisation is a complete misnomer.”
He added: “There is no such thing as an ‘after-sex contraceptive pill’. It is a contradiction in terms.
“In their zeal to increase choices for women, the researchers have lost sight of the other person who is involved in every abortion no matter how early a pregnancy is ended.”
Dr Elizabeth Raymond, from the New York-based technology firm Gynuity, and colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said women would welcome drug companies developing the pill, and that they “deserve all possible options” when it comes the issue.
Dr Raymond said: “Twenty years ago, a multicountry survey specifically designed to investigate women’s feelings about a post-fertilisation contraceptive pill found remarkably high acceptance.”
She said there seems to be “no evidence” that women have changed their minds since then, and that the “current political environment” needs refocusing.
She added: “To meet the challenges of our increasingly complicated world, women deserve all possible options for controlling and preserving their reproductive health and lives.”