The Five-Morning-After Pill?
Posted on Jun 11, 2010
A European contraceptive that works as a five-day alternative to the “morning-after” pill may be coming to American shores, but a thorny debate surrounding the drug’s chemical similarity to the RU-486 abortion pill raises some politically charged questions for the FDA.
The FDA is set to examine the risks of the new drug next week, but arguments are already growing heated over the old questions of when life begins and the right of women to control their own bodies. —JCL
The Washington Post:
A French drug company is hoping to offer American women something their European counterparts already have: a pill that works long after “the morning after.”
The drug, dubbed ella, would be sold as a contraceptive—one that could prevent pregnancy for as many as five days following unprotected sex. But the new drug is a close chemical relative of the abortion pill RU-486, raising the possibility that it could theoretically be used to induce abortion by making the womb inhospitable for an embryo.
The controversy sparked by that ambiguity will force a panel of federal advisers scheduled to consider endorsing the drug next week to grapple with a host of thorny issues. The last time the Food and Drug Administration vetted an emergency contraceptive—Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill—the decision was mired in debate over such fundamental questions as when life begins and the distinction between preventing and terminating a pregnancy. Ella is raising many of those same politically charged questions—but more sharply, testing the Obama administration’s pledge to keep ideology from influencing scientific decisions.
Flickr / campusprogress_blog
Approved in Europe last year, ella is now available as an emergency contraceptive in at least 22 countries.