Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Morning after Pill' Dosage Approved FDA Vote Draws Protest, Praise

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Morning after Pill' Dosage Approved FDA Vote Draws Protest, Praise

Article excerpt

In a move hailed as unveiling the best-kept secret of women's health care, government scientists on Friday declared high doses of ordinary birth control pills taken soon after sex a good way to prevent pregnancy.

Some women's advocates applauded as scientific advisers to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously voted that the pills are safe and effective. But some abortion foes protested the move, saying life begins as soon as sperm and egg unite.

Thus, emergency contraception "is killing an unborn child, before its life is even begun," argued Rebecca Lindstadt of the American Life League.

The pills prevent pregnancy by blocking a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus so it can grow into an embryo.

"The FDA is finally giving emergency contraception the attention it deserves," said Charlotte Ellertson of the nonprofit Population Council.

Now the FDA must decide what to do: Ask pill makers and their generic competitors to get permission before marketing emergency contraception; pu blicize the proper doses so doctors better prescribe them; or, as women's groups want, force manufacturers to add the doses to existing pill labels, a choice that makes the FDA uncomfortable.

In at least six other countries, women who are raped, whose birth control fails or those who just forget in the heat of the moment are routinely prescribed high doses of birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. They're even sold specially packaged to have on hand in case of emergency.

The same pills are sold here but are not marketed as "morning-after" pills - and no company has even asked for FDA permission to do so - because of political and legal fears.

Consequently, while it is legal for doctors to prescribe the Pill for emergency use, few know what doses to use and half the women who could benefit even know to request them, surveys show.

Yet emergency contraception could prevent 1 million unplanned pregnancies a year, said Janet Benshoof of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. …

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