by Steven Ertelt
August 1, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life organizations are upset at news that the Food and Drug Administration has sent a letter to the maker of the morning after pill saying it intends to work with it to make the drug available over the counter to women over the age of 18. The groups say it may sometimes cause abortions and puts women at risk.
“We find it absolutely unacceptable that the FDA is going to turnover the health of American women to pharmacists and clerks in drugstores,” Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, of Concerned Women for America, said in response.
Crouse worries that men who sexually violate teenagers could use the drug to cover up their actions.
She also said that the morning after pill doesn’t reduce the number of abortions and pointed to its use in Scotland, where it was made available over the counter in 1999. Officials recently announced that abortions there are at their highest points on record.
The FDA announced Monday that it sent a letter to manufacturer Barr Pharmaceuticals asking for a meeting in the next seven days. During the meeting, they will discuss a deal to sell the drug to women over 18 and make teenager continue to get the Plan B pill through a prescription.
Deirdre McQuade, pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also expressed dismay with the FDA.
McQuade focused on the potential for the drug to cause an abortion by preventing the unique human being after fertilization from attaching to the uterus to begin the rest of the pregnancy process.
“Plan B is marketed as a contraceptive but even its proponents admit that it works both before and after conception,” McQuade said.
“It would also place additional pressure on pharmacists who conscientiously object to dispensing drugs that can kill humans at their earliest stages of development,” McQuade added.
She also pointed out a study showing that the morning after pill does not reduce pregnancy rates.
“As surprising as it may seem to proponents of Plan B, a 2005 study co-authored by a Planned Parenthood doctor in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that having Plan B on hand did nothing to reduce pregnancy rates compared to those who obtained the drug from a pharmacy,” McQuade noted.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins also said he worries about "the potential for Plan B to be given to women, especially sexually abused women and minors, without their consent or knowledge."
"Interaction with medical professionals is a major screening and defense mechanism for victims of sexual abuse," Perkins explained. "The elimination of the routine examination of sexually active girls and women if Plan B is sold over-the-counter could cover up sexual abuse."
The surprise announcement comes just one day before acting FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach will appear before a Senate committee for a hearing on whether to confirm his nomination.
Pro-abortion lawmakers, led by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, put a hold on his nomination until the FDA moved forward on Barr’s request for over the counter status for the morning after pill.
The two released a statement Monday saying they still plan to prevent von Eschenbach’s nomination until the agency makes a final decision.
Barr initially filed an application to sell the drug over the counter to all women and came back with a revised proposal to sell it only to girls over the age of 16 after the FDA said it did not submit enough research showing its effect on teenagers.
An FDA committee advised approving the request in December 2003 but, in August 2005, the agency indefinitely postponed any decision on the drug while it investigated enforcement issues.
The FDA also said Monday it had reviewed 47,000 public comments on the morning after pill and that the majority of them supported the drug.