US approves sale of new abortifacient drug
August 16, 2010
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the sale of a new “emergency contraceptive” drug that is touted for its ability to “prevent pregnancy” up to 5 days after sexual intercourse.
The drug marketed as “ella” works by preventing ovulation. But if ovulation has already occurred, the drug has the effective of preventing the fertilized ovum—a newly conceived human being-- from becoming implanted in the womb, thus assuring its demise.
The FDA approval was announced on a Friday afternoon in August, evidently to minimize the immediate public impact. The Washington Post, in an unusually balanced report, acknowledged that the action showed “a shift in the influence of political ideology at the FDA.” The decision to approve over-the-counter sales of the “morning-after pill” known as Plan B, came only after months of heated debate, the Post recalled.
The newly approve drug ella is advertised as effective as preventing (or ending) a pregnancy for up to 5 days after intercourse. The American Associate of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted that the long-term effect of the drug proves that it is abortifacient. The group reasoned:
The egg must be fertilized on the day of ovulation. And why does ella work for 5 days after ovulation? Because it is on about the 5th day after fertilization that the new baby begins to implant – but can’t, because the uterine lining is disabled by ella. That is abortifacient action.
The FDA approval of ella opens a series of related political debates, on issues such as public funding for the abortifacient pill and the availability of a “conscience clause” for pharmacists who refuse to dispense it. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, a pro-life leader, charged that the Obama administration was using the FDA “to covertly allow federal funding for abortion.”
Pharmacists for Life International said that its “disgust for the deadly FDA action is profound.” The group observed that a time when many needed drugs are in short supply, the FDA was bowing to political pressure to rush through approval of an abortifacient.
The FDA’s quick approval also triggered questions about the safety of the drug—particularly since another abortifacient drug, RU-486, has been blamed for the deaths of at least 6 women since it was approved for sale 6 years ago. The FDA said that ella should only be used occasionally, should not be used by women who are already pregnant, and should be used only within 3 days of intercourse. But several critics observed that women would be likely to take the drug beyond the prescribed conditions, and nothing would prevent a woman from accumulating a stockpile of the drug to be used for routinely ending inconvenient pregnancies.
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