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Tracking the FDA’s Approval of Plan B: 10 Years of Endangering Women’s Health

By Mailee R. Smith
Staff Counsel

This year marks the tenth “anniversary” of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the “emergency contraceptive,” Plan B.  A decade later, Plan B is not only just as unsafe, but now the drug manufacturer is targeting our children.

The FDA first caved to abortion advocates’ demands in 1999 when it approved the prescription status of Plan B.  While touted as a drug to prevent pregnancy, the drug manufacturer does not hide the fact that it will prevent the implantation of an embryo.

But as we have come to expect, the availability of Plan B through prescription was not enough for abortion advocates.  So in 2001, a group of organizations petitioned the FDA to make Plan B available over the counter.  A lawsuit was also initiated in a federal court in New York.  While at first the FDA denied the request, it caved once again in 2006 when it approved over-the-counter sales of Plan B to women 18 years of age and over.

Not surprisingly, this was not enough for abortion advocates, either.  They complained that the health of minors was at stake because minors did not get unfettered access to Plan B.  Of course, men who impregnate minors can buy Plan B and give it to minors, but this is largely ignored by the abortion advocates.  Maybe because they are too busy trying to hide the abortions of minors whose adult perpetrators were not “smart enough” to buy Plan B in time.

So abortion advocates reframed their lawsuit in New York, suing the government because Plan B is not available to children under 18 years of age.  On March 23, 2009, a federal district court in New York ruled that Plan B must be made available to 17-year-old minors and directed the FDA to reconsider its policies regarding minors’ access.  The Obama administration did not appeal and the FDA intends to comply with the ruling.

In June of this year, the FDA approved the first generic version of Plan B.  After all, isn’t it the goal of abortion advocates—ahem, like Justice Ginsberg—to make sure poor women and women in minorities don’t reproduce? 

In July, the FDA followed up by approving “Plan B One-Step.”  While Plan B in its original form required the ingestion of two pills, Plan B One-Step merely requires the ingestion of one pill.  In other words, the FDA has approved a pill that is even stronger than original Plan B—which is also available to anyone 17 years of age and over.

And the question still remains: If Plan B is stronger than regular birth control, and regular birth control is too strong to allow women (let alone minors) access without prescription… just why is it safe to allow unregulated access to Plan B?

The answer: It’s not.

Not only are the higher amounts of hormones found in Plan B (as compared to regular birth control) unsafe for over-the-counter status, but over-the-counter access has made Plan B available to a broader range of women than it was even tested upon.  The maker of Plan B has not researched what happens when adolescents take Plan B.  In addition, the maximum safe dose for levornorgestrel, the active ingredient in Plan B, and the effects of overdose have not been determined by scientific study on any age group.  And without physician oversight, women with health conditions that are at risk for serious complications following use of Plan B will have no guidance in taking the drug.  They won’t even know they shouldn’t use it.

Moreover, Plan B is used to exploit women.  A study done in Thailand, where emergency contraception has been available without prescription for almost 20 years, had the following comments: “Although many feminists believe that the morning-after pill gives them more control over their own bodies, it would seem, judging from the few studies conducted so far, that it is actually being used by men to exploit women.”  Indeed, studies revealed that men were the most frequent buyers.  Many women did not even know what they were taking; they were simply told by their partners that the pill was a health supplement.  In addition, easy access to an easily-administered drug encourages the continued exploitation of women by sexual predators.

Further, broad availability of Plan B has not reduced the number of abortions, but has led to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.  For example, once emergency contraception became available without prescription in the United Kingdom, use among teenage girls doubled from 1 in 12 to 1 in 5.  In fact, one study reported that 4 out of 12 women were influenced to have unprotected sex because of the easy access to emergency contraception.  In those areas with easy access to emergency contraception, the number of sexually transmitted diseases has skyrocketed.

It’s too bad that the drug manufacturer and abortion advocates didn’t spend the last 10 years investigating the safety concerns of Plan B. 

But their efforts did make one thing clear:  Their alleged concern for women and minors is mere rhetoric.  It’s really about the money.

This article was published with permission from Culture of Life Foundation. To view the original publication, see their website.