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Women Leaders, Members of Congress Decry EC Decision

A broad coalition of women’s rights and religious leaders yesterday joined members of Congress on Capital Hill to express outrage over the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to give in to right-wing pressure and reject over-the-counter status for the emergency contraceptive (EC) Plan B. Representatives Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) sponsored the press briefing, calling for a Congressional inquiry into the decision and demanding the resignation of FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford and Dr. Steve Galson, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. The briefing came after the FDA’s decision to ignore the advice of its own expert advisory panels, which voted 23-4 to recommend approval for over-the-counter status for emergency contraception. “The FDA, in rejecting its own expert advisory panels, is allowing right-wing politics to trump science at the expense of women’s health,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “By ignoring the more than one million women and men who rallied in support of reproductive rights at the March for Women’s Lives and the hundreds of women’s organizations that support over-the-counter emergency contraception, the FDA shows also contempt for public demand.” Rep. Slaughter, a microbiologist with a Master’s Degree in Public Health, said she was “appalled that the FDA disregarded the scientific facts” and instead pandered to right wing ideology. “Allowing over-the-counter access to emergency contraception could cut our unintended pregnancy rate in half and prevent thousands of abortions,” she stated in a press release. “It is appalling that a nation with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world would deny women this safe contraceptive option.” Over-the counter access to EC could prevent an estimated 800,000 abortions annually. Leaders of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campus Program attended the press conference, holding signs demanding that EC be made available over-the-counter. The Feminist Majority Foundation leads a national drive on college campuses to increase the availability of EC for young women. TAKE ACTION Tell the FDA that you are outraged it has placed politics over science at the expense of women’s health LEARN MORE about the Feminist Majority Foundation’s campaign to expand access to EC on college campuses DONATE to support FMF’s work to win over-the-counter status for emergency contraception

Sources:

Feminist Majority Foundation; Rep. Louise M. Slaughter release 5/12/04

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