Birth Control Archive

June – April 2007: Birth Control / EC

Study Finds Strong Evidence for Abortifacient Effect of Plan B “Emergency Contraception”

Spanish Doctors Oppose Over-the Counter Sales of Morning-After Pill   

The Cockrane Study: EC Does Not Reduce Pregnancy Rates, But Use it Anyway

FDA OKs Pill to Put Full Stop to "Period" 

Pill That Eliminates the "Period" Gets Mixed Reviews 

Family Groups Sue FDA Over OTC Distribution of "Contraceptive" Plan B

Plan B Manufacturer Pamphlet Describes Abortifacient Effect 

Report Admits: Emergency Contraception Does Not Reduce Abortion…

STUDY FINDS STRONG EVIDENCE FOR ABORTIFACIENT EFFECT OF PLAN B "EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION". [Analysis by Dr. John B. Shea, MD. FRCP(C)]. In a recent article in Fertility and Sterility R.T. Mikolajczyk and J.B. Stanford proposed a model experiment that estimated the effectiveness of the disruption of ovulation by Levonorgestrel used as an "emergency contraceptive," based on the prevention of fertilization.
They also demonstrated what was termed the "effectiveness" of levonorgestrel with or without "mechanisms acting after fertilization." If disruption of ovulation were the only significant mechanism of action of levonorgestrel, its "effectiveness" could not be much more than 50% if given immediately after intercourse. With delays in its administration, it would be substantially less. 

This finding contrasts sharply with "effectiveness" rates reported in clinical trials, where rates as high as 95% are reported if administered within 24 hours after intercourse. 

The authors suggest that mechanisms other than disruption of ovulation contribute to this "reduction of clinical pregnancy." Those mechanisms were said to include inhibition of sperm migration and reduction of sperm capacity for fertilization (both contraceptive mechanisms) and "mechanisms that act after fertilization," that is, prevent implantation of the embryo in the uterus. 

That mechanism causes an abortion and does not "reduce clinical pregnancy." Only numbers can be reduced. The pregnancies are aborted, not reduced. 

The word "effectiveness" is used by the authors in an ambiguous way. One meaning refers to disruption of ovulation, contraception, and the other refers to reduction in fecundity, but does not indicate whether this was the result of contraception, abortion, or both. This study does, however, provide strong evidence that levonorgestrel administered as an "emergency contraceptive" may act as an abortifacient. Abstract excerpts: Levonorgestrel emergency contraception: a joint analysis of effectiveness and mechanism of action
Objective
To model the effectiveness that can be obtained if levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception (EC) acts only through disrupting ovulation, in relation to other effects that may occur before or after fertilization and accounting for delays in administration.

Main Outcome Measure(s)
Effectiveness in the form of proportion of pregnancies prevented.

Result(s)
With disruption of ovulation alone, the potential effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC ranged from 49% (no delay) to 8% (72-hour delay). With complete inhibition of fertilization before the day of ovulation, the potential effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC ranged from 90% (no delay) to 16% (72-hour delay).

Conclusion(s)
The gap between effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC estimated from clinical studies and what can be attributed to disruption of ovulation may be explained by overestimation of actual effectiveness and supplementary mechanisms of action, including postfertilization effects. Additional data with follicular ultrasound and precise measures of delay between intercourse and EC administration would yield greater insight into effectiveness and mechanisms of action.

Key Words: Emergency contraception, ovulation, follicular growth, effectiveness, postfertilization effects, levonorgestrel
a Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany
b Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Reprint requests: Rafael T. Mikolajczyk, M.D., Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Bielefeld, P.O. Box 100131, D-33501 Bielefeld, Germany (FAX: +49-(0)521-106-2968).
PII: S0015-0282(06)04732-7
doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2006.11.178
[Abstract :
http://www.fertstert.org/article/PIIS0015028206047327/abstract, Rafael T. Mikolajczyk, M.D.a, Joseph B. Stanford, M.D., M.S.P.H.b, 28May2007, Toronto, LifeSiteNews.com]
 

SPANISH DOCTORS OPPOSE OVER-THE-COUNTER SALES OF EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION. Stats show large increase in abortion rate paralleling emergency contraception distribution. The College of Physicians of Barcelona is opposing plans to allow the distribution of the abortifacient morning-after pill in pharmacies without a prescription.
Saying greater access to the pill will lead to more surgical abortions and more risks for the health of women, the College is opposing an effort by the Catalan Department of Health to make the pill available for over-the-counter sales, according to a report published by Spanish news service Noticias Globales.

While the College does not have a strong record of support for pro-life issues, as the report points out, it nonetheless is concerned about the health effects of such a move. The doctors point out that increased distribution of the pill has not resulted in a reduction in unplanned pregnancies or surgical abortions. In fact, statistics have shown a marked increase in abortion rates that parallels a greater distribution of emergency contraception.

In 2005, with more than 500,000 morning-after pills distributed, the number of surgical abortions was 91,000. The number of abortions in 2000, before the pill was made available, was 60,000. Spain introduced the morning-after pill in 2001, when it was distributed in pharmacies throughout the country.

The College expressed concern over increased health risks from inadequate information about the dangers and proper usage of the pill that would result if the pill were made available without prescription.

Although the pill is not recommended for minor girls younger than age 16, girls as young as 13 would be able to obtain it easily without a prescription. Department of Health statistics from Catalonia show that while the highest percentage of users are women between the ages of 18 and 22 years, the second highest group is young girls between the ages of 13 and 17.

While half the women requesting the pill took it once, 30 percent took it twice and 18 percent took it three or more times, with some requesting the drug up to eight or nine times.
Related: Spain’s Abortion Rate Doubles Over 10 Years
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/feb/05021110.html

Spain Continues Cultural Tailspin—Abortion Rates Soar 72%
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jan/06010308.html

SPAIN TO ALLOW ABORTIFACIENT MORNING AFTER PILL
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2001/feb/01022005.html
[25May07, Schultz, Barcelona, Spain, LifeSiteNews.com]
 

 

THE COCHRANE STUDY. Past ACOG President Vivian Dickerson a few years ago told the FDA in special hearings on Emergency Contraception that the approval of EC had the potential to reduce abortions in America by 50% (that is 750,000 less abortions, folks). So EC was approved, and the abortion rate stayed about the same ever since. 

Next came the intense pressure from ACOG and others to get OTC approval so the women could get the med in a timely fashion. That would fix the problem of lack of effectiveness. To prove their contention, a number of studies were then done, featuring not OTC access, but unlimited, advance provision of free pills, with counseling on how and when to swallow it, to boot! 

Results: no decrease in unplanned pregnancy or abortion rates in the group with the free, advanced provision pills. 

Next came the ACOG "ASK ME" campaign, with a button to pin on each obgyn so patients would ask us about how effective EC is. 

Now comes the Cochrane study, which is commented on below by one of our board members. Do you detect a kind of academic schizophrenia in all this??
 
COMMENTS:
Well, well, well. Look what we have here. The prestigious Cochrane data base gets a review of emergency contraception, specifically advance provision. 

Notice the last three authors—Glasier, of the Scottish study which showed no decrease in unplanned pregnancy or abortion with advance provision; Harper, who was involved in the San Fran studies which showed the same; and then our old friend D. Grimes bringing up the rear.
Now you know that this crowd will be putting the best possible spin on this that they can.

So they have to admit that so far advance provision of emergency contraception hasn't done a thing (despite D. Grimes writing an editorial piece in which he railed at the world because of all the proven good we could do but weren't doing by getting this stuff over the counter). 

But then notice this conclusion: Women should have easy access to emergency contraception, because it can decrease the chance of pregnancy. (See the end) I think this may be unprecedented in the Cochrane review—recommending something that you have just shown has no evidence to back it up. This is antithetical to the entire spirit and purpose of the Cochrane review!
 
STUDY REVIEW
Advance provision of emergency contraception for pregnancy prevention (full review)
 
Polis CB, Schaffer K, Blanchard K, Glasier A, Harper CC, Grimes DA
 
[The full text of the review is available in The Cochrane Library (ISSN 1464-780X). Art. No.: CD005497. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005497.pub2. Date of last subtantive update: January 14. 2007
 
Abstract. Background. Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy when taken after unprotected intercourse. Obtaining emergency contraception within the recommended time frame is difficult for many women. Advance provision, in which women receive a supply of emergency contraception before unprotected sex, could circumvent some obstacles to timely use.
 
Objectives. To summarize randomized controlled trials evaluating advance provision of emergency contraception to explore effects on pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual and contraceptive behaviors…
 
Main results. Eight randomized controlled trials met our criteria for inclusion, representing 6389 patients in the United States, China and India. Advance provision did not decrease pregnancy rates (OR 1.0; 95% CI: 0.78 to 1.29 in studies for which we included twelve month follow-up data; OR 0.91; 95% CI: 0.69 to 1.19 in studies for which we included six
month follow-up data; OR 0.49; 95% CI: 0.09 to 2.74 in a study with three month follow up data), despite increased use (single use: OR 2.52; 95% CI 1.72 to 3.70; multiple use: OR 4.13; 95% CI 1.77 to 9.63) and faster use (weighted mean difference (WMD) -14.6 hours; 95% CI -16.77 to -12.4 hours). Advance provision did not lead to increased rates of
sexually transmitted infections (OR 0.99; 95% CI 0.73 to 1.34), increased frequency of unprotected intercourse, nor changes in contraceptive methods. Women who received emergency contraception in advance were equally as likely to use condoms as other women.
 
Authors' conclusions. Advance provision of emergency contraception did not reduce pregnancy rates when compared to conventional provision. Advance provision does not negatively impact sexual and reproductive health behaviors and outcomes. Women should have easy access to
emergency contraception, because it can decrease the chance of pregnancy. However, the interventions tested thus far have not reduced overall pregnancy rates in the populations studied
. [emphasis added; AAPLOG, 20Apr07] 

 

 

COCKRANE STUDY: Use of Morning After Pills Doesn't Cut Abortion, Pregnancy Rates. A new study in England find that widespread use of the morning after pill has done nothing to cut either abortion or pregnancy rates there. The research also shows that the use of the Plan B drug also did not lower the rates

of sexually transmitted diseases. Conducted by the Cochrane Library Review, the study looked at eight surveys of women conducted in the United States, India and China. The survey found that the promotion of the morning after pill increased its use but did not lower the abortion and pregnancy rates as abortion advocates have claimed it would. The study found that the use of the morning after pill increased from six percent of women in 1996 to 12 percent in 2002. Not only did the abortion rate not go down, the study found it increased 50 percent during the same period of time. [19April07, London, England LifeNews.com] 

 

 

 

FDA OKS PILL TO PUT FULL STOP TO PERIOD. The first birth-control pill that allows women to suppress their monthly menstrual cycle, and skip periods, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration 22May07. The pill, called Lybrel, a name its maker, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, intends to symbolize "liberty," is unlike other prescription birth-control pills that include placebos and have been standard since the sales began in the 1960s. Lybrel is taken 365 days a year, rather than the typical 21-day regimen followed by a seven-day series of placebo pills, the combination that causes a mild, artificial period. The drug contains the lowest dose of two hormones widely used in birth-control pills, ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel [a progestin]. After specifically looking for cancer and other side effects as a result of suppressing the menstruation cycle, the FDA determined the drug is as safe as other oral contraceptives. The most significant risk is cardiovascular problems in women who smoke, which is why the pills are packaged with a warning not to smoke. "We don't expect any surprises down the road," said Daniel Shames, deputy director of the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation, adding that to ensure safety the FDA requested that Wyeth conduct further studies once the drug has been put on the market. Avoiding monthly periods is not a new practice for women taking birth-control pills; however, because Lybrel is designed to be taken continuously all year, periodic bleeding will all but be eliminated, according to Wyeth. FDA officials say some surprise bleeding or spotting is likely to occur. "This pill is not for all women," said Natalie de Vane, spokeswoman for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. "It is intended for women who want a choice of whether to have their period or not. There are women who want that lifestyle option; for women who do not, it is probably not for them." Clinical tests of Lybrel showed that 59 percent of women ended up with no bleeding after six months, but 18 percent of women dropped out of studies because of spotting and breakthrough bleeding, according to Wyeth. The demand for Lybrel, which will begin being sold in a 28-day pill pack in July to doctors, is presumed to be high as industry analysts estimate sales could reach $40 million this year and $235 million by 2010. Wyeth has not disclosed how much Lybrel will cost.
A similar birth-control drug, Seasonique, made by Barr Pharmaceuticals, which entered the market in August, reached $6.1 million in sales in the first quarter of 2007, while its predecessor Seasonale, which allowed for a woman to have a period once every three months, peaked at about $120 million.
Women's health specialists are welcoming the advent of Lybrel as a new option for women who prefer to bypass their menstrual cycle. "It will be accepted by women, but the age and stage of life at which women will take it will be interesting to watch," said Elizabeth Cahill, executive vice president of the National Women's Health Resource Center. "This pill will probably be used more by women in their 20s who are very busy traveling and working. Older women who have already had children may want their period to know they're not pregnant."
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said this type of birth-control pill is long overdue and will be widely used by women with health problems such as endometriosis and severe cramps. "We think this option was available a long time ago and should have been offered from the 1960s when the pill was first introduced," she said. "It is about time." Lybrel is 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, but because a woman taking the drug will likely not experience a period, determining a pregnancy presents a dilemma. "That is a concern," Ms. de Vane said. "We encourage women taking Lybrel who think they might be pregnant to take a pregnancy test."
In an effort to raise awareness about menstrual suppression, the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research held a panel in 2003 to discuss the issue. One group of researchers on the panel concluded that there was not enough evidence to suggest that menstrual suppression is entirely safe and reversible. "While we recognize that menstrual suppression may be a useful option for women with severe menstrual-cycle problems such as endometriosis, we do not believe that continuous oral contraceptive use should be prescribed to all menstruating women out of a rejection of a normal, healthy menstrual cycle."  [23May07, The Washington Times, G. Lopes, http://www.washtimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20070523-120340-1703r,
News World Communications] 

 

PILL THAT ELIMINATES THE PERIOD GETS MIXED REVIEWS. For many women, a birth control pill that eliminates monthly menstruation might seem a welcome milestone. But others view their periods as fundamental symbols of fertility and health, researchers have found. Rather than loathing their periods, women evidently carry on complex love-hate relationships with them.

This ambivalence is one reason that a decision expected next month by the Food and Drug Administration has engendered controversy. The agency is expected to approve the first contraceptive pill that is designed to eliminate periods as long as a woman takes it. Doctors say they know of no extra risk to the new regimen, but some women are uneasy about the idea. “My concern is that the menstrual cycle is an outward sign of something that’s going on hormonally in the body,” said Christine L. Hitchcock, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Ms. Hitchcock said she worries about “the idea that you can turn your body on and off like a tap.” That viewpoint is apparently one reason some already available birth control pills that can enable women to have only four periods a year have not captured a larger share of the oral contraceptive market. If the new combination pill, called Lybrel, is approved, Ronny Gal, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, predicts an onslaught of advertising meant to persuade women to do just that.

["The scientific abstract of the U.S. clinical trial examining the return to menses after stopping use of the non-cyclic oral contraceptive in 187 women who took 90 µg levonorgestrel/20 µg ethinyl estradiol tablets for a median of 364 days reported that menstruation returned or pregnancy occurred in 99 percent of participants within 90 days after stopping the study drug.  This study reported that 38.5 percent of women experienced a return to menses in 30 days, and 92.5 percent of participants had experienced menses within 60 days." http://www.wyeth.com/news?nav=display&navTo=/wyeth_html/home/news/pressreleases/2006/1147122267860.html]

The drug’s maker, Wyeth, said yesterday that it was expecting F.D.A. approval in May, but has declined to discuss its marketing plans. The company’s research shows that nearly two-thirds of women it surveyed expressed an interest in giving up their periods. That dovetails with the findings of similar research conducted by Linda C. Andrist, a professor at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. “We don’t want to confront our bodily functions anymore,” Ms. Andrist said. “We’re too busy.”

Doctors say they know of no medical reason women taking birth control pills need to have a period…[S]ome doctors caution that little research has been conducted on long-term effects.

The topic has, however, inspired an hourlong documentary by Giovanna Chesler, “Period: The End of Menstruation?,” currently screening on college campuses and among feminist groups. Ms. Chesler, who teaches documentary making at the University of California, San Diego, said she became concerned about efforts to eliminate menstruation when she first heard about the idea several years ago. “Women are not sick,” she said. “They don’t need to control their periods for 30 or 40 years.” The subject has also ignited a debate within the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, a scientific organization that studies both the medical and social science of menses.

In 2003, the group issued a position statement saying that more research was needed before women could make an informed choice about using pills that suppress their periods. That statement could be revised at the group’s meeting scheduled for Vancouver, British Columbia, in June. Ms. Hitchcock, a director of the organization, said that although some research has been comforting, she remained concerned that medical science did not fully understand the long-term implications of interrupting women’s periods.

The same hormones that work on the menstrual cycles act in the brain, bones and the skin, she said. “You need to think about whether there are consequences we don’t know about for the whole body,” said Ms. Hitchcock, who is with the Center for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research. There has also been a backlash among groups that celebrate the period as a spiritual or natural process, like the California-based Red Web Foundation.

“The focus of our group is to create positive attitudes toward the menstrual cycle; suppressing it wouldn’t be positive,” said Anna C. Yang, a holistic nurse and executive director of the organization.
Eliminating menstruation is not a completely new concept. Women who take any kind of oral contraceptive do not have real periods.
Because the hormones in pills stop the monthly release of an egg and the buildup of the uterine lining, there is no need for the lining to shed — as occurs during true menstruation.

Still, since the advent of oral contraceptives in 1960, birth control pills typically have been designed to mimic the natural 28-day menstrual cycle to assure women using the pill that their bodies were functioning normally. The pills are usually packaged as regimens of 21 days of hormone pills and 7 inactive pills. The interruption of hormone therapy during the inactive part of the regimen induces bleeding that resembles a mild period but is, in fact, caused by unstable hormone levels.

In recent years, drug makers have come out with new pill regimens that tinker with the 28-day cycle by increasing the number of hormone pills, creating a shorter span of bleeding.

The drug maker Barr caused a sensation in 2003 by introducing Seasonale, a contraceptive regimen packed as 84 hormone pills and 7 placebo pills. Users have “periods” once every three months.

Carol Cox, a spokesman for Barr, said that Seasonale sales reached $120 million in the 12 months ended June 2006, before a generic equivalent by Watson entered the market. But even at that peak, Seasonale accounted for what Mr. Gal called a “small segment” of the $1.7 billion annual United States market for oral contraceptives.

But Barr, which say it believes that there is a larger market for the pills, is sponsoring a Web site, www.fewerperiods.com, that explains how the pill works. And the company plans a direct advertising campaign within the next few months for a newer version, Seasonique, which also reduces periods to four a year.

At a Wyeth presentation to investors and analysts in New York last October, the company’s therapeutic director for women’s health, Dr. Ginger D. Constantine, presented data predicting that annual sales could reach $250 million for Lybrel, which is designed to be taken daily.
The company has not said what it expects to charge for Lybrel, but birth control pills generally cost $18 to $50 a month, depending on the brand.
Dr. Constantine cited company-financed research indicating that women often feel less effective at work and school during their periods. They limit sexual activity and exercise, wear dark clothes and stay home more, resulting in absenteeism, she said.

Menstrual suppression may be particularly appealing to women who suffer severe pain, heavy bleeding or emotional problems during their periods. A study by Canadian researchers found that women afflicted by heavy menstrual bleeding give up $1,692 a year in lost wages.
One woman who now uses Seasonale said she had found her periods debilitating before she started taking it.
“I had some months when I couldn’t get out of bed unless I popped 600 milligrams of Motrin,” said Marcella O’Neal, a department manager for Nordstrom in Atlanta. Ms. O’Neal, 36, said Seasonale had eliminated many of her symptoms — cramping, hot flashes and depression. “I love it, actually,” she said.

Views about menstruation have long been mixed. Some cultures have banished menstruati

ng women to huts or required special baths after periods. Others believed that menstruating women had special powers.
In her diary kept while in hiding from the Nazis, Anne Frank mused about menstruation. “I have the feeling that in spite of all the pain, unpleasantness and nastiness I have a sweet secret,” she wrote.
Wyeth’s research indicates that ambivalence toward the menstrual period continues today. A look at the data reveals that half of the women said they found comfort in their periods as an indication that they were not pregnant. Nearly a quarter of the women polled said they were attached to their periods as a natural part of womanhood.

The currently available medical research shows that the side effects of pills that suppress menstruation are the same as the side effects of regular birth control pills. The risks are generally low, but the most significant risk is cardiovascular problems in women who smoke, the reason that pills are packaged with a warning not to smoke.

But some doctors caution that there is no data on what happens when menstruation is suppressed for a very long time.
“We don’t have any long-term studies for what happens if you stop periods for years and years and years,” said Dr. Maria Bustillo, a reproductive endocrinologist in Miami. Dr. Bustillo said there was probably no increased risk over traditional birth control regimens, but added that the “jury is still out” on whether breast cancer risk might be increased.
Although studies are conflicting, some have shown that the birth control pill may increase that risk. According to the National Cancer Institute, research indicates that the pill increases the risk of liver cancer in otherwise low-risk women while decreasing the risk of cancers of the ovary and the endometrium — the lining of the uterus.

With Barr’s Seasonale and Seasonique, the biggest medical problem so far — one that has also cropped up in tests of Wyeth’s Lybrel — is that users can have unpredictable and irregular bleeding or “spotting” that is worse than with regular birth control pills. But for some women who view their periods as the natural order of things, the qualms go beyond purely medical concerns.

At the alternative Bluestockings Bookstore on the Lower East Side of Manhattan early this month, several dozen women gathered for the New York premiere of “Period: The End of Menstruation?,” Ms. Chesler’s hourlong documentary. It explores the idea of suppressing the menstrual period but leaves the viewer to make up her own mind. One who attended the screening, Aviva Bergman, a 22-year-old student at Goucher College in Maryland, said she would not use products that suppressed her period because it seemed unnatural. “I just feel that there’s a reason you’re getting it every month,” she said.
[20April07, S. Saul,
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/20/health/20period.html?ref=health&pagewanted=print]

  

 

FAMILY GROUPS SUE FDA OVER CONTRACEPTIVE. The Family Research Council and other groups yesterday [12April] sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, seeking to overturn the 2006 decision that allowed over-the-counter distribution of the contraceptive Plan B also called the "morning-after pill." The lawsuit — filed in U.S. District Court — accuses the FDA of violating the law by allowing the same drug to be distributed simultaneously by prescription and over the counter, and charges that the FDA's decision was made under improper political pressure from Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Patty Murray of Washington state. After the decision was made, these two senators lifted their holds and Dr. Von Eschenbach was confirmed by the Senate in the ensuing months. FRC along with Concerned Women for America, Safe Drugs for Women and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons are suing the FDA and FDA Commissioner Andrew Von Eschenbach over the August decision to allow nonprescription sales of the morning-after pill to those 18 or older, but retain it as a prescription-only product for those 17 or younger. Their lawsuit charges that the FDA had no authority to approve the same drug and labeling for simultaneous prescription-only and over-the-counter distribution and that the FDA cannot treat the drug differently based on the age of the buyer because "FDA lacks the authority to enforce Plan B's age limitations." The FDA also failed to take some of the steps required during the decision-making process, produced a misleading label and failed to prove the drug is safe for use by teenagers, who could still get it over the counter if it's purchased by an older person, the lawsuit says. The Plan B drug has been available by prescription since 1999, but there was a lengthy fight over whether to make it available over the counter. Some pro-life groups say the drug essentially produces an abortion since it prevents implantation of the embryo after conception. Critics also note that Plan B is essentially a higher dose of the main ingredient of the traditional birth control pill, which is still only available via prescription. [13Apr07, The Washington Times] 

 

 

PLAN B MANUFACTURER FOR NEW ZEALAND ADMITS IT CAUSES ABORTION. Plan B medication can cause abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy, the New Zealand manufacturer that distributes the drug has admitted.

Schering [NZ] Ltd, based in Auckland, produces the emergency contraceptive drug for sale in New Zealand. Schering produces and distributes a pamphlet providing information on Plan B that pharmacists give to women who purchase the drug. The pamphlet clearly states that Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb, thereby causing the death of the newly-conceived child.

The pamphlet states that the drug Levonelle is thought to work by:

1. Stopping or delaying the ovaries from releasing an egg.
2. Preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg you may have already released.
3. Stopping a fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus.

Despite the manufacturer’s admission that the drug can lead to abortion, the packaging does not alert women to the possibility. Plan B is available in New Zealand without prescription for over the counter sales in pharmacies, with no age restrictions in place.
Related: Plan B Manufacturer Admits Morning After Pill Can Cause Death of an Embryo
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/sep/06090701.html
UNICEF Demands Abortion for Underage Girls witho

ut Parents Knowledge
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/oct/04101201.html
[By Gudrun Schultz AUKLAND, New Zealand, January 3, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com]

 

 

REPORT ADMITS EC DOES NOT REDUCE ABORTION Unable to prove the benefits, downplays the risks: nevertheless continues to promote EC use. To date, no published study has been able to yield evidence for a decline of abortion rates with wider use of ‘emergency contraceptives’, although numerous studies and clinical trials have taken place that were “specifically designed to address this issue,” researchers say in a new report.

The November 2006 report, which appears in this month’s issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, reviews 23 studies to “demonstrate convincingly that greater access [to the pills] increases use” but that “to date, no study has shown that increased access to this method reduces unintended pregnancy or abortion rates.”

Authors of the report, James Trussell, Dr. Elizabeth Raymond and Chelsea B. Polis, admit that the degree to which pro-abortion groups for years have touted emergency contraception as the guaranteed way to make abortion rare “may have been overly optimistic.” Despite the total lack of evidence in favor of emergency contraception reducing either unintended pregnancy or abortion, the authors go on to express that nevertheless they too remain optimistic, and promise that yet more widespread use of ECPs will eventually yield results.

The report ignored recent studies from the UK demonstrating that abortion rates not only have not declined with wider access to EC, but appear to have climbed on an even par with increased use of the pills.

Natalie Hudson, in an article entitled ‘The Contraception Misconception’ that first appeared in a 2004 edition of Right to Life News Canada, indicated that she is not surprised by the correlation between increased EC use and increased abortion.

“As acceptance of contraception increases so does acceptance of abortion. Why is this the case? Because at the root of contraception is the notion that a couple can engage in sexual activity and avoid its natural consequences. Couples who unintentionally conceive a child while using contraception are far more likely to resort to abortion than others . . . Taking the possibility of human life out of the sexual act has lead to a false sense of ‘sexual freedom’ and with it a neglect of the responsibility that ought to accompany sex.”

The Guttmacher Institute has consistently reported that over half of abortions recorded are the result of a ‘failed’ contraceptive method—emergency contraception or otherwise. Trussell and his colleagues advocate emergency contraception for use as a consistent back-up to a woman’s regular contraceptive method of choice. Promoting Plan B or another emergency contraception over reliance on the availability of abortion amounts to promoting one back-up plan over another. But many women will prefer to rely on abortion in the event of conception than to routinely take a drug that is still new to the market and relatively experimental.

Increased acceptance of the drug could also serve to increase acceptance of abortion by making recourse to abortion less dramatic of an event. The report consistently refers to the rise of unintended pregnancy as a “major health problem” which wider availability of EC drugs will surely reduce, and an analysis of the capability of vaccines to prevent certain diseases is used analogously to describe the capability of emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. The report seeks to establish emergency contraception as the accepted ‘prevention’ for a medical condition, but says nothing to counter the implication that abortion remains the cure.

Nor does the report deal fairly with the concerns of those who cite the pills’ abortifacient nature. Instead, the authors engage in some careful semantics to evade the real issue, taking it upon themselves to establish that emergency contraceptives do not, after all, interrupt pregnancy, pregnancy being defined by such medical authorities as the US Food and Drug Administration and the American College of Obstretrics and Gynecology as beginning with implantation.

The pill works to prevent implantation, hence, the researchers conclude, it may serve to prevent, but not interrupt a pregnancy. The report does not address the issue of whether, by preventing implantation, the pill does not thereby interrupt the normal life span of a human embryo. Fertilization of a female egg by a male sperm in a Petri dish is all that is necessary to create a human embryo, the researchers’ counterparts in embryonic stem cell research could have informed them. It is the protection of this embryonic life, not the protection of an early pregnancy, that critics of EC are concerned about.

The report is available in PDF format at: http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/ec-review.pdf.

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

UK Abortion Rates Continue to Climb Despite Increasing Emergency Contraception Use
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/sep/06091507.html

Advisory Doctor to FDA Confirms Morning-After Pill Acts as Abortifacient
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/oct/06100408.html

Plan B Manufacturer Admits Morning After Pill Can Cause Death of an Embryo
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/sep/06090701.html

Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute Getting Desperate
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/may/060505a.html ;

The Contraception Misconception
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004_docs/contraceptionmisconception.htm

Scottish Research ‘Discovers’ Morning-After Pill Does Not Reduce Abortion Rate
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/dec/04120304.html
[9Jan07, Cassidy Bugos, BALTIMORE, Maryland, LifeSiteNews.com]