Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Plan B? We'll See

Emergency contraception - the morning-after pill- should be available without a prescription, on pharmacy shelves next to the aspirin and cough medicine, government advisers said Tuesday.
The nation's largest gynecologists group had urged the move, saying it would greatly increase women's ability to get the pills in time to prevent pregnancy: within 72 hours of rape, contraceptive failure or just not using birth control.

Used widely, emergency contraception could cut in half the nation's 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and in turn prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions, proponents told scientific advisers to the Food and Drug Administration.
Or as some will no doubt say, merely change the mechanism of abortion.

The FDA isn't bound by its advisers' recommendations but usually follows them.

Commissioner Mark McClellan said Tuesday that the FDA would make a final decision on the morning-after pill in "a matter of months."

Asked whether political considerations would be taken into account, McClellan said, "We have a lot of information coming in. It's very much a science-based process."
Although sold by prescription since 1998, we shall see whether politics or science rule the day insofar as their over-the-counter availability. The favorable vote on the advisory panel was 23-4.


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