• (AAP)
A rights group is urging Honduras not to pass a law that would mean teens and rape victims could be jailed for years for using the 'morning after pill' contraceptive.
By
Lisa Zilberpriver

UPDATED 10:48 AM - 26 Aug 2013

A rights group is urging Honduras not to pass a law that would mean teens and rape victims could be jailed for years for using the 'morning after pill' contraceptive.

"Honduras is just days away from approving an extremist law that would put teenagers in prison for using the morning-after pill, even if they've just been raped," said an email from Avaaz.org.

The vote could occur any day, the email added.

"Some Congress members agree that this law - which would also jail doctors or anyone who sells the pill - is excessive, but they are bowing to the powerful religious lobby that wrongly claims the morning-after pill constitutes an abortion,' the email said.

Avaaz is a not-for-profit organisation that regularly uses email and online petitions to put pressure on governments engaged in activities that it believes violate human rights.

Honduras passed a law criminalising use or sale of the 'morning after pill' in 2009 (click on the link to see the decree in Spanish).

The decree was based on the assertion of local religious groups that the pill was a method of early abortion.

The Democratic Unification Party (PUD) slammed that claim, citing a World Health Organisation declaration that it was only a form of contraception and could not actually cause an abortion if there was a pregnancy already in place.

The measures Avaaz outlines in its email would further toughen the law, extending it to teenagers and rape victims.

According to an article in Spanish on its website, Avaaz says 100,000 people had already signed its petition by late March, after a week of circulation.

Honduras's Women's Rights Centre (CDM) said on its website that if the petition reached 400,000 signatures, Avaaz would send it to local women's groups for presentation to the government in the hope the international pressure would force it to reconsider.

The CDM was running a campaign that explain how to use the 'morning after pill' (Pastilla Anticonceptiva de Emergencia, or PAE in Spanish), despite it being a criminal offence in Honduras since 2009.