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MAP’s Medical and Abortion Problems

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will decide by the end ofthis month whether to allow over-the-counter (OTC) sales of the
morning-after pill (MAP).  The fact that it is even considering doing so
is another example of the power of feminist dogma, a power that trumps threats to young women’s health from this potentially dangerous and certainly unproven method of birth control and abortion.

MAP in this country is a high-dosage form of a common prescription birth control pill.  Different from the chemical abortion pill RU-486, MAP must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse to be effective.  MAP hasn’t been studied long enough for anyone to know what the long-term health consequences may be of suddenly shocking a woman’s system with a high-dose flood of hormones in order to prevent or end a pregnancy.  But health experts, even those who favor OTC MAP, do agree that using MAP repeatedly can lead to serious health consequences.  That’s why keeping MAP available by prescription-only makes sense to protect women.

But feminists and their lackeys in the medical profession want the FDA to liberalize the availability of MAP.  This will surely lead to the
irresponsible repeated use of MAP, especially by teenage girls who fail touse conventional contraception.  After all, MAP is "needed" only by women who were too irresponsible to use contraception in the first place (with the exception of rape victims, of course).  Can minor girls engaging in sexual intercourse be expected to behave so responsibly, especially if the adult authorities are so irresponsible as to place MAP into every drugstore in the country?  Who would be the more irresponsible-the girls, or the FDA and feminist pressure groups?  MAP could also encourage more young people to have unplanned sex, since it would seem to absolve them of one of the major consequences.  A handful of states have already legalized OTC MAP, but the FDA’s lack of approval has held back wide OTC distribution of the drug.

Some have suggested that OTC MAP be made available only to women over 18 or girls and women over 16, with the sort of controls imposed upon cigarette sales.  Not only it is questionable that the FDA has the authority to enforce such an unprecedented method of controlling OTC drug sales, but the ease with which minors currently obtain cigarettes and alcohol should prove that such an arrangement won’t work.  This is especially true since so many minor girls are having relations with adult men, who are likely to be very willing to buy MAP for their young girlfriends.  Reported Planned Parenthood’s Alan Guttmacher Institute in August 1999, "Nearly two-thirds (64%) of sexually active 15-17-year-old women have partners who are within two years of their age; 29% have sexual partners who are 3-5 years older, and 7% have partners who are six or more years older."  That means 36% of girls 15-17 have sexual partners who are 18 or over.

There is another problem with MAP: It probably does not only prevent
conception, but also the implantation of an already-conceived child.  The dishonest governmental and medical establishments have redefined pregnancy to begin at implantation, and so they can call MAP "emergency contraception" or EC.  Yet no one has conclusively proven that MAP does not prevent implantation of a conceived child-i.e., no one has proven that MAP does not cause abortion.  Certainly, the theories seem to indicate that it does.

Dr. Andr√?∆? ¬© Devos, a retired Belgian gynecologist who studied at the
University of Chicago, has collected some of the assertions made by MAP experts.  Talking about two common types of MAP, Chris Kahlenborn, Joseph B. Stanford, and Walter L. Larimore, wrote in "Post-fertilization effect of hormonal emergency contraception," The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, March 2002, "From theoretical and empirical evidence, both the Yuzpe and the LNG method act in two different ways: On the one hand, a possible inhibition of the ovulation; on the other, a disturbance at the level of the endometrium, making an early abortion possible."  (The endometrium lines the uterus.)  Another example: "The mode of action of the morning-after pill consists in preventing the implantation of the fertilized ovum in the endometrium," said abortion expert David A. Grimes, M.D., in an interview with Medscape Medical News, Oct. 1, 2002.  Even the FDA itself said on Feb. 25, 1997, "EC pills act by delaying or inhibiting ovulation through inhibition of FSH and LH, and/or altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova (thereby inhibiting fertilization), and/or altering the endometrium (thereby inhibiting implantation)."

The official website for Plan B, the leading MAP in the United States,
could mislead anti-abortion women when it declares, "Plan B® is not RU-486 (the abortion pill); it will not work if you are already pregnant." Though Plan B’s manufacturer is using contemporary medical terminology accurately, most women consider themselves pregnant if they’ve conceived. How many anti-abortion women may have killed their unborn children in embryo form with the use of this drug?

An August 10 AP story put the usual feminist spin on the possibility of
OTC MAP and even reported this preposterous assertion: "Contraceptiveadvocates and doctors’ groups say easier access [to MAP] could halve the nation’s 3 million annual unintended pregnancies."  But Britain, a country so similar to our own, legalized OTC MAP in 2001, and abortions have gone up every year since.  In fact, the abortion rate for girls under 14 increased by 6% from 2003 to 2004.  In Sweden, OTC MAP was legalized in 1998.  Between ’98 and 2003, the teen abortion rate went up by 31%.

There is evidence of an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal condition, with the use of MAP.  A study done of levonorgesrel MAP in Britain and New Zealand found an ectopic pregnancy rate of 6% in women after MAP failed, which is triple the usual rate.

The FDA should quash the idea of OTC MAP once and for all.

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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