Media Reports on FDA Plan B Approval Ignore Drug’s Abortion Potential

National   Jacqueline Harvey, Ph.D.   May 1, 2013   |   10:08AM    Washington, DC

In light of the recent decision to extend emergency contraception (EC) sales over-the-counter to minors, there are a number of headlines concerning EC in the media.

Sadly, many of these articles are rife with factual errors. One more egregious example is Four Myths about Emergency Contraception Explained, which boldly presents facts as myth and myths as facts. A full report is available here to correct these errors, and facts from the report are summarized below.

FACT: Emergency Contraception May Cause the Death of Newly-Conceived Human Offspring, Media Denies This and Researchers Mislead the Public

The media denies abortifacient potential of EC, but this is an established medical fact. The concentrated dose of the hormones found in daily oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) acts similarly to OCPs in not just preventing ovulation, but also altering the uterine lining (endometrium) to prevent the implantation of the blastocyst, a newly-conceived human offspring. Even vehemently pro-abortion experts on EC admit  that EC can work to inhibit implantation and cause an early abortion stating in February 2013: “To make an informed choice, women must know that ECPs- like all regular hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control pill, the implant Implanon, the vaginal ring NuvaRing, the Evra patch and the injectable Depo-Provera and even breastfeeding—prevent pregnancy primarily by delaying of inhibiting ovulation and inhibiting fertilization, but may at times inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg in the endometrium.”

Yet the same analysis that cites numerous studies  showing that EC can inhibit implantation also claims, “ECPs are not abortifacient.” This statement is misleading, because it depends on the definition of pregnancy as implantation, not conception.  The Emergency Contraception Website, a project of the Association of Reproductive Health Professional and Princeton University answers, “Does emergency contraception cause an abortion?” with a clear,No, using emergency contraceptive pills (also called “morning after pills” or “day after pills”) prevents pregnancy after sex. It does not cause an abortion. (In fact, because emergency contraception helps women avoid getting pregnant when they are not ready or able to have children, it can reduce the need for abortion.)  [Emphasis added]. Yet, in the following paragraph, it states, “It is possible that EC may affect the movement of egg or sperm (making them less likely to meet), interfere with the fertilization process, or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. [Emphasis added]. The deception of EC as an abortifacient denies women a clear and straight-forward answer about whether or not EC may potentially kill a child after conception by preventing implantation. 

FACT: Emergency Contraception May Promote Riskier Sexual Activity and Increased STD Rates.

Smith declares that it is a myth that “emergency contraception increases promiscuity.” She cites only one study as “numerous studies,” and this paper was published in 2008. It ignores studies that contradict its premise prior to 2008, and exists prior to data following the approval of over-the-counter sales of EC in 2006 that more than doubled  use between the years 2006-2010.ecgraphic

Studies have shown that increased access of youth to emergency contraception is correlated with an increase in the rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, yet no verifiable decrease in teen pregnancy rates. In fact, out of 15 peer-reviewed studies that examined emergency contraception and teen pregnancy rates, 14 found no effect whatsoever. Interviews with habitual EC users have women noting that they became cavalier about taking their daily birth control pills knowing they had EC as an alternative. One woman who admits to abusing EC explains how the ease of access to these pills has encouraged her to forego the use of condoms, saying “The truth is that because the morning-after pill was available in pharmacies so readily, there was no real incentive for me to be careful about having safe sex.” This corresponds with a recent report  from the Centers for Disease Control that shows that 49% of women who were surveyed used EC after unprotected sex, whereas only 45% report using the pill as backup when another birth control method had failed).

FACT: Emergency Contraception is Easily Abused and May Be Dangerous

Smith’s article falsely states that EC isan extremely low dose of hormonal contraception” when in fact; one dose of EC is the equivalent of eight to 12 regular birth control pills. As the name emergency contraception suggests, EC is intended to be used only as a back-up to a regular birth control method since there are concerns about the long-term consequences from ingesting a significant dosage of hormones (a much more potent dose than a daily birth control pill)-  and doing so quite often. In fact, adult women who volunteered that they were habitual users of EC were also users of regular birth control pills, but admitted  that they often forgot to take their pills regularly, so they ingested the large dose of hormones in EC as well the hormones in the daily pills that they remembered to take .There is also the potential for abuse, in some extreme cases – women admit using EC 15 and even 60 times as their sole form of contraception. There is not sufficient evidence that women will not suffer consequences from usage of EC similar to lawsuits against over methods of hormonal birth control. Furthermore, there increased exposure to STDs presents a danger to women as well.

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LifeNews Note: Jacqueline Harvey is a scholar of public policy and bioethics from Texas who works as a consultant in social services, primarily in statistics as a non-profit program evaluator and policy analyst. Dr. Harvey’s background includes both undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, as well as a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy from the University of North Texas, with considerable coursework in public health and healthcare administration from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Reprinted with permission from Reproductive Research Audit.