The pending decision over allowing OTC status for the morning after pill is causing quite a bit of commotion. The FDA has yet again postponed their decision on the matter. The debate has become further politicized as Susan Wood, Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director at the FDA, resigned her position earlier in the week. Next, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released their statement in support of allowing this dangerous medicine to be available without physician supervision, even to adolescent girls.
Ms. Wood was an advocate for the pro-abortion cause, and her resignation has been praised by the Concerned Women for America.
The AAP boldly claims that "Emergency contraception has the potential to significantly reduce teen pregnancy rates and this will similarly reduce the abortion rate." They also chide doctors who do not do not discuss emergency contraception with young patients by citing the following statistic: "only 20-25 percent of health care providers discuss emergency contraception with adolescent patients." Their statement is to be included in the Oct 5 issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal.
Yet statistics do not show that accessibility to EC (also called "Plan B," the Morning After Pill or MAP) reduces the instance of pregnancy or abortion. In fact, it has been shown that in places where EC is used at higher rates, teen pregnancy rises as does instance of abortion.
At this time, the FDA has opened up a period of 60 days for public input on the topic. Their proposal is that it will remain a prescription drug for women 16 and under, but OTC for those 17 and older. Yet, they also inform us that no drug has ever enjoyed the dual-status as such.
This plan seems to mirror the policies for distributing EC in the
United Kingdom, where the drug is available with out a prescription for women over the age of 16. EC is available to all without a prescription in Canada as of April, 2005.
This situation is one example of a separation of powers issue between legislating and public policy making. On one hand, it is entirely appropriate that the FDA would decide such matters, as this was the purpose of establishing the agency. On the other hand, citizens may wonder why there is so much politicking in a government agency that is supposed to be at very least objective.
But, it is inevitable that the FDA is somewhat political. The FDA was established so that Congress does not have to handle these issues. And, the FDA does still rely on input from the public, as we can see in the 60 extension and call for public input.
However, in its approval of RU 486 during the Clinton administration, the FDA clearly failed in their review of a drug that even at that time proved a deadly drug. Now, as many as 6 women have died, including the well-know story of Holly Patterson of California, and 600 have suffered complications from the hasty decision. This goes to show that the FDA needs a political check on it, however
It is also worth mentioning that Senator DeMint of south Carolina has recently introduced the "RU-486 suspension and review act," S-511.
If emergency contraception is allowed over-the-counter, will this be the "slippery slide" that will allow all chemical contraceptives to become available OTC? Perhaps eventually, the deadly drug RU-486 will become available OTC as well.
The solution? Emergency contraception shouldn't even be on any market. Let's try a "Plan C." In lieu of being fed drugs to cover up a destructive and irresponsible lifestyle, abstinence education should be taken seriously. Fidelity within marriage and the openness to children ought to be fostered. Please read Humanae Vitae.
Action Item: urge your pediatrician not to associate himself with the AAP. Urge all your physicians to make a statement to the FDA opposing the availability of EC as an OTC drug. Encourage your Senator to support S-511. Please visit the US Senate website to contact your senator.