Move on Morning-After Pill Called "Reckless"

U.S. Bishops Assail Plan to Ease Sales of Potentially Abortifacient Drug

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WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops' conference is opposing a federal panel's approval to make a "morning after pill" available without a prescription.



"A drug which destroys human embryos and puts women at greater risk of ectopic pregnancy does not belong on the shelves of a drug store," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, a spokeswomen for the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "American women and children do not deserve this reckless experiment on their lives."

The federal Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs voted this week to approve a proposal to make Plan B, a levonorgestrel-only morning-after pill available over the counter. The final decision rests with the Food and Drug Administration.

The petition for the switch in status was filed by Women's Capital Corporation, a drug company which has sold the Plan B distribution rights to Barr Laboratories.

"It is being marketed and advertised as a contraceptive, but it works before and after conception," said Ruse. "Women deserve to know what is being marketed to them."

Making this drug available without a prescription also poses serious health risks to women, since the drug is associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal complication, Ruse said.

Proponents of the proposal claim that the drug does not terminate a pregnancy because they define pregnancy as beginning when the embryo implants in the uterine wall. "This is an argument about rhetoric, not reality," said Ruse.

Girls will have free access to Plan B without their parents' knowledge if the proposal is approved. "Parents deserve to know that if this proposal is approved, their teen-aged daughters will have free access to a powerful abortion-inducing drug without their knowledge," Ruse said. "This is bad policy and bad medicine."

See the bishops' comments in their entirety at www.usccb.org/ogc/ec-fda.htm.