FDA Condemned for Over-the-Counter Access to Plan B Pill

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A pro-life group Monday called on the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider Barr Pharmaceutical Inc.'s request to make its "morning-after" pill available over the counter.

The American Life League said it is "aghast" that the FDA "has caved to mounting political pressures" regarding Plan B, the emergency contraception, "a deadly cocktail of drugs that - even according to its manufacturer - can act to take the life of newly conceived babies in the days immediately following fertilization."

According to the FDA, Plan B pills would be kept behind the counter, and women would have to ask for them. Those under 18 would need a prescription for the drug.

"The FDA should not have authorized any use of this risky drug regimen in the first place and it certainly should not make it readily available over the counter," said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, in a statement. "The FDA, as an arm of the federal government, is supposed to protect its citizens - not put them at risk for death.

"While it is disgusting that the FDA has given way to politics, it is not surprising. This particular federal agency has been lying to women for over 40 years regarding the fact that the birth control pill can kill preborn children prior to implantation," added Brown

"It is no secret that this is one of the ways in which the pill works, yet the American public continues to fall for the line that the pill cannot kill a newly-conceived child," added Brown.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) called the FDA's announcement "nothing more than another delay tactic."

Both senators have threatened to block acting FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach's nomination until the agency makes a decision on the emergency contraception. Eschenbach is set to appear before a Senate committee Tuesday to become FDA's permanent chief.

"The FDA continues to shirk its duty to serve as an independent agency dedicated to no other goal than the promotion of sound science and the well-being of the American people," the senators said in a statement.

Concerned Women for America criticized the FDA for failing to withdraw the abortion pill RU-486 from the market and then pushing forward with making the Plan B pill more readily available.

"The FDA cannot find time to withdraw the dangerous abortion pill RU-486 from the market no matter how many women die after taking it, but now the rogue agency is willing to re-open debate over whether to remove medical care from the morning-after pill," the group said.

Furthermore, CWA said allowing only women to buy the drug over-the-counter without a prescription is not an adequate safeguard for young females.

"Any scheme based on who buys the drug is absolutely meaningless," said Wendy Wright, president of CWA. "Anyone, man or woman, over 18 could buy the drug and turn around - even in the store - and give it to a 13-year old.

"Neither FDA nor Barr, the Plan B drugmaker, has the ability to penalize those that would sell or give the drug to a minor. No one can believe that the FDA or Barr could enforce a gender restriction on sales so that only women can buy it but men could not," said Wright.

"Worse yet, OTC access to the morning-after pill does not cut the number of pregnancies or abortions," Wright added. "Just the opposite. In fact, Scotland made the morning-after pill non-prescription in 1999 and in 2005 the country reported its highest number of abortions since abortion was decriminalized in 1967.

"Countries that make the morning-after pill easy to access show no drop in pregnancies or abortions, but they do experience skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Common sense and care for women - especially minor girls - requires medical oversight of this drug. The FDA needs to stop playing games with women's lives," Wright said.

See Earlier Stories:
Democrats Place Another Hold on Bush's FDA Nominee (March 16, 2006)
Pro-Abortion Group 'Delighted' Wal-Mart Must Stock 'Morning-After' Pill (Feb. 14, 2006)

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