A Backup Plan for the Morning After

By: Daniel K. Hoh
By: Daniel K. Hoh

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended today that the so-called "morning after" birth control pill should be switched from prescription to over-the-counter.

The pill is called Plan B and contains a high concentration of hormones to stop a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus. Supporters say research shows the drug to be safe and effective.

But opponents worry about it being abused and say some women may use it too often or inappropriately.

"[It] should be something that's thoroughly tested and proven to be safe for someone who may just slightly bend the instructions on the package," says Bowling Green crisis pregnancy counselor Don Fricks.

Fricks says making Plan B over-the-counter may also discourage safe sex and increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The FDA commissioner will take Tuesday’s recommendation into consideration and make the final decision in the near future.

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Emergency Contraception: The Morning-After Pill

What is it?

Emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill) is a high dosage of the birth control pill. It is recommended to be used after sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing or ending pregnancy. There are three different ways birth control pills are currently being promoted for this use: progesterone alone, estrogen alone, or both of these artificial steroids together.
These are the same steroids found in the typical birth control pill.

Where did this idea come from?

The idea of emergency contraception, or a morning-after pill, is based on a theory. Under this theory, if a woman has sexual intercourse and fears she may be pregnant, she can take large doses of birth control pills. If in fact the woman is pregnant when she takes these birth control pills, the high dosage could act to kill her preborn child-a living human being. The only "emergency" in this case is the woman's fear of being pregnant.
There is no such thing as a specific morning-after pill, but rather double doses (or more) of existing birth control pills. Though no testing has been done to confirm the safety of these large doses of birth control pills for women, the Food and Drug Administration has approved this use.

How do emergency contraception/morning-after pills work?

The emergency contraceptive/morning-after pill has three possible ways in which it can work:

1.Ovulation is inhibited, meaning the egg will not be released;
2.The normal menstrual cycle is altered, delaying ovulation; or
3.It can irritate the lining of the uterus so that if the first and second actions fail, and the woman does become pregnant, the tiny baby boy or girl will die before he or she can actually attach to the lining of the uterus.

In other words, if the third action occurs, her body rejects the tiny baby and he or she will die. This is called a chemical abortion. Abortion is an act of direct killing that takes the life of a tiny human being-a life that begins at fertilization.

Is it safe?
Here are some of the side effects:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • infertility
  • breast tenderness
  • ectopic pregnancy-can be life threatening
  • blood clot formation

Emergency contraception also offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS. There are no long term studies to show whether women will be permanently damaged, or risk such diseases as cancer, from these chemicals being given in such high doses.

Sources:
"A Consumer's Guide to the Pill and Other Drugs," by pharmacist/researcher John Wilks.

"Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives," by pharmacist Bogomir Kuhar; 2nd edition, 1995.

Medical consultant: Stephen Spaulding, M.D. Dr. Spaulding is a board-certified family practitioner whose writings have appeared in a variety of medical journals.

Source: http://www.morningafterpill.org/mapinfo1.htm contributed to this information.


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