FDA Delays Decision on Emergency Contraception

Today, for the third time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delayed its decision on making the emergency contraceptive Plan B available over-the-counter. This delay flies in the face of the deal between Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt. The Senators had blocked Lester Crawford’s confirmation as FDA Commissioner until a deadline was set for approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said “The Bush Administration has shamelessly misled these two Senators,” and that “these stall tactics are only harming women and increasing the need for abortions.” Emergency contraception has the potential to cut in half the number of unintended pregnancies and to prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions in the United States annually.

Dr. Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, says “To bow to political pressure and delay approval for over-the-counter status for EC will result in harming young women.” Emergency contraception is safer than aspirin, meets all of the FDA’s requirements for over-the-counter status, and is up to 95 percent effective if used within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or sexual assault.

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