News Articles

LIFE DIGEST: Sales of ‘morning-after’ pill boom following new over-the-counter policy

WASHINGTON (BP)–Sales of a “morning-after” pill that can cause an abortion are expected to double in the year since the federal government approved its non-prescription distribution.

Barr Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures the drug, said sales of Plan B have increased from about $40 million a year to a total it expects will be near $80 million for 2007, The Washington Post reported July 13.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Aug. 24 of last year that it would make Plan B available without a prescription for use by women 18 and older. Under the new FDA policy, females 17 and under need a prescription, a requirement previously for women of all ages. Under the government guidelines, Plan B is to be kept in stock behind the counter at each pharmacy, so proof of age can be checked.

Plan B is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. Under the regimen, a woman takes two pills within 72 hours of sexual intercourse and another dose 12 hours later. The “morning-after” pill, also known as emergency contraception, works to restrict ovulation in a woman. But it also can act after conception, thereby causing an abortion, pro-lifers point out. This mechanism of the drug blocks implantation of a tiny embryo in the uterine wall.

Under the new FDA policy, a prescription is required for birth control pills but not for stronger doses of the same drug.

As they had when the FDA announced its policy change last year, pro-life and abortion rights advocates reacted quite differently to the news of Plan B’s flourishing sales.

Charmaine Yoest, the Family Research Council’s vice president for communications, said the announcement provided further evidence of a flawed decision.

“This is a drug that is a stronger version of contraceptives which do require doctor’s supervision for everyone. To think that you could take a stronger version of the drug and not use supervision really defies common sense,” Yoest said, according to NBC News.

Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, according to NBC News, “This is what we expected if Plan B went over the counter. Every woman deserves every chance to prevent unintended pregnancy.”

The FDA approved Plan B for sale by prescription in 1999.

PRO-LIFE LEADER DIES — Harold O.J. Brown, 74, an evangelical pioneer in the American pro-life movement, died July 8.

Brown’s “most prominent work was helping form and intellectually arm the pro-life movement,” according to a Christianity Today article. He not only worked and wrote to help evangelicals become involved in the pro-life movement after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide, but he helped found a leading pro-life organization.

Brown joined the then-future U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and others in founding an evangelical, pro-life organization in 1975. Known as the Christian Action Council at the time, it later became Care Net. It is the country’s largest network of crisis pregnancy centers, with more than 1,000 affiliates.

“[His] most central place of influence is rightly considered the pro-life movement,” said Mike Kruger, academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., according to Christianity Today. “He not only anticipated the problem before abortion was legalized, but he has been one of the great organizers of actions to deal with the problem.”

Brown, who taught at Reformed Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago, authored nine books and wrote for Christianity Today and other magazines.

BLANCO SIGNS BANS — Louisiana July 13 became the first state to prohibit partial birth abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in April a federal ban on the gruesome procedure.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, signed into law July 13 two bills that prohibit a method of abortion that normally occurs in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. The measures have slight differences, but they both provide for prison sentences of from 1 to 10 years for doctors who perform such procedures. They also can be fined from $10,000 to $100,000. Women who undergo partial birth abortions are not subject to prison terms or fines. The laws allow an exception if the mother’s life is threatened.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision affirmed a 2003 law barring a procedure in which, as typically used, an intact baby is delivered feet first until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors before inserting a catheter into the opening and suctioning out the brain, killing the baby.

The Louisiana law allows the state to prosecute partial-birth abortion violations instead of waiting on federal prosecutors to do so. Also, it allows the state to prosecute cases if a pro-choice presidential administration — which would be less likely to prosecute such cases — takes office.