by Steven Ertelt
January 17, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The FDA may decide as early as this week on whether to allow sales of the so-called morning after pill over the counter without a doctor’s consultation. Pro-life groups oppose the use of the drug, which can sometimes cause an abortion, and say that a recent study shows it doesn’t reduce pregnancy or abortion rates.
Supports of the drug, known as Plan B, say it is effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies that could lead to abortions. They contend that making the drugs more available will help lower both rates.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco tracked 2,117 local women from age 15 to 24 for six months.
It found that increased access to the "morning after" pill did not lower pregnancy rates, because many women did not use the pills. 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.
Yet advocates of the drug, such as Kelly Mangan of the University of Florida’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, say it should be made more readily available.
"Women’s reproductive rights shouldn’t hinge on someone else’s schedule. We should have this at our fingertips. It should be next to condoms in drug stores,” Mangan told the Associated Press.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, speaking for the nation’s Catholic bishops, said that the study, co-authored by a Planned Parenthood doctor, "blows the lid off the main argument for putting morning after pills on the drugstore shelf."
"Proponents have repeatedly claimed that making the drug available without a prescription would reduce abortion numbers by as many as half; now their own study debunks that claim," Ruse said.
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.
The FDA previously denied an application from pill maker Barr Laboratories to sell the so-called emergency contraception over the counter. It was denied in part because Barr failed to show how the drug would affect teens.
Barr submitted a new application in July asking the FDA to approve over the counter sales to women over the age of 16, but requiring anyone younger to have a prescription.
Related web sites:
Food and Drug Administration – https://www.fda.gov