The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug ella. While the FDA is allowing the drug to be deceptively marketed as a “contraceptive,” the agency’s prescribing instructions for the drug admit that ella may cause abortions.
The drug ella is praised by its advocates for being very “effective.” However, as the FDA notes, one reason for its effectiveness is that ella “may affect implantation.” This means ella does more than prevent conception; ella can kill an embryo.
That ella may kill an embryo is unsurprising, as it has a similar chemical make-up to the abortion drug RU-486. Both are selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs). By blocking progesterone, an SPRM can “affect” an embryo in two ways. It can either prevent a developing human embryo from implanting in the uterus, or it can kill an implanted embryo by starving it to death.
The drug ella is even deadlier than Plan B, another so-called “emergency contraceptive.” When the FDA approved Plan B, it acknowledged that the drug not only prevented fertilization but “may also work by…preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus…” In approving ella, the FDA has chosen even broader language (“affect” rather than “prevent”) to describe how it may work.
While the FDA made specific assurances that Plan B would not affect an embryo after implantation, it contraindicates ella for “known or suspected” pregnancy. The FDA admits, “There are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women.” It cites studies in animals with high rates of pregnancy loss, and it acknowledges that the effects on a fetus that survives ella are unknown.
It is perhaps not cynical to think that the timing of the announcement – late on a Friday afternoon in the summer – was intended to avoid media attention and subsequent controversy. Women deserve better than to have this story swept under the rug, and they deserve better than to have the FDA continually expand the meaning of “contraception” to include more abortion-causing drugs.