WASHINGTON (July 31, 2006)— Deirdre McQuade, pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reacted strongly to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement on July 31 moving toward over-the-counter (OTC) availability of Plan B for women eighteen and older.
"Making this powerful, abortifacient drug available without a doctor's oversight could place women and their newly-conceived children at risk," Ms. McQuade said.
Plan B – also known as the "morning-after pill" – is essentially a megadose of prescription hormonal birth-control pills. "Plan B is marketed as a contraceptive but even its proponents admit that it works both before and after conception," Ms. McQuade said.
"Over-the-counter availability would allow these drugs to be used routinely, despite the fact that they are not approved for such use. Studies presented to the FDA confirm that many women do not understand that the pills should not be used routinely," McQuade said, "Many are also unaware of their abortifacient action."
"Women for whom the drug is dangerous would not have the benefit of any clinical advice to alert them to the risks," McQuade said. One physician who supports OTC availability of Plan B concedes that "repeated use of [emergency contraception] wreaks havoc on a woman's cycle" with "resulting menstrual chaos."
"It would also place additional pressure on pharmacists who conscientiously object to dispensing drugs that can kill humans at their earliest stages of development," Ms. McQuade continued.
"As surprising as it may seem to proponents of Plan B, a 2005 study co-authored by a Planned Parenthood doctor in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that having Plan B on hand did nothing to reduce pregnancy rates compared to those who obtained the drug from a pharmacy," McQuade noted.