New Pill, Same Misinformation

Steven Mosher
and Colin Mason
PRI Weekly Briefing
23 June 2010
Vol. 12 / No. 16
Reproduced with Permission
Population Research Institute

On June 17th, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel unanimously approved a new abortifacient drug, cutely called "ella," moving it one step closer to final approval and its appearance on drugstore shelves across the nation.

The French pharmaceutical company HRA Pharma, which manufactures the drug, claims that it is just an upgraded "morning after pill" that prevents, rather than interrupts, a pregnancy. In fact, the company claims that this one tiny pill can prevent pregnancy up to five days after sexual intercourse.

The abortion industry, feminist groups, and the lamestream media are wild with excitement over this new addition to the arsenal of the sexual revolution, but we are forced to ask an obvious question: How can a pill "prevent" pregnancy five full days after sex?

Answer: it doesn't. There is little doubt that "ella" acts as an abortifacient in many cases.

The only reason that the company claims otherwise - aside from greed, that is - is that they redefine the meaning of the word "pregnant." In their view, pregnancy does not begin at conception, but rather only at the implantation of the developing embryo into the uterine wall five to seven days later. This is a misleading and inaccurate definition of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood - an organization that would profit off the new drug - claims that there is no evidence that the drug interrupts pregnancy after implantation. But it almost surely does, since it uses ulipristal acetate, which blocks the progesterone receptors necessary for the early development of the embryo to continue. Indeed, the test which women are given to determine whether they are suffering a miscarriage is one which measures the amount of progesterone. A progesterone-blocking drug will necessarily be an embryo-killing drug.

The pill has been roundly criticized by experts and religious leaders. Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America cited the pill's deceptive marketing, saying that "women will buy it thinking it's a morning-after pill when in fact, it is an abortion pill." Cardinal Daniel DiNardo weighed in with a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, in which he expressed "grave concern" over the FDA's approval, among other reasons citing its potential "'off-label' use as an abortion drug."

And Dr. Donna Harrison, president of American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists (AAPLOG), blasted the drug not only because of its possible safety hazards, but also because of its inaccurate and misleading marketing.

"Information on this embryotoxic and fetotoxic mechanism of action is critical to informed consent for women," she said. "Many women have ethical qualms about using a drug capable of aborting an early pregnancy. Clear information about the embryotoxic and fetotoxic potential must be included on the product label for adequate informed consent."

In other words, this is not a form of "emergency contraception." It is yet another kind of abortion pill, and should be clearly labeled as such if it is approved. Better yet, it should not be approved at all.