Morning After Pill Study: No Pregnancy Rate Decrease, OTC Sales Irrelevant

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 5, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Morning After Pill Study: No Pregnancy Rate Decrease, OTC Sales Irrelevant Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 5, 2005

San Francisco, CA ( — A new study of women who use the so-called Plan B emergency contraception pills shows that making the controversial drug more available has no effect on reducing pregnancy rates and that making it available over the counter doesn’t mean women will use it more.

Yet, the authors of the study claim it rebuts one of the arguments pro-life groups make about allowing the drug to be sold over the counter — namely, that it will lead to women, especially teenagers, engaging in risky sex.

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco tracked 2,117 local women from age 15 to 24 who participated in the study for six months.

They found no increase in risky sexual behavior among any of the three groups. Some women were given a personal supply of the pills, another group were told to obtain the pills at a local pharmacy, and a third group were instructed to get the drugs from a local health clinic.

"The concept that this could be harmful or that young women would misuse it is a notion with no evidence to date to support it," said Dr. Tina Raine, lead author of the study. The report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pro-life groups and the Food and Drug administration cited, among other reasons, an increase in risky sex as its basis for disapproving a request by the drug maker to allow the drugs to be sold over the counter.

However, pro-life organizations oppose the use of the drug mostly because it can sometimes act as an abortion agent and kill a conceived unborn child at the earliest stage of pregnancy.

The study provided further arguments for those who oppose the morning after pill.

It found that increased access to the "morning after" pill did not lower pregnancy rates, because many women did not use the pills.

Increased access to the morning after pills also did not reduce pregnancy rates, contrary to supporters’ claims. In fact, only 55 percent of the women who had the pills already in their possession took them following sexual intercourse.

Just under one-fourth of the women in the study never used the pills during the six-month experiment. Only 20 percent said they used them more than once.

Regardless of which of the three control groups the women were placed in, the results showed the same percentage of women in each group had sex, contracted sexually-transmitted diseases and became pregnant at the same rates.

Despite the study’s results, advocates of selling the sometimes abortifacient drugs over the counter plan a sit in Friday at the FDA headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, if leading FDA official Steven Galson, who disapproved the over the counter sales, refuses to meet with them.