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Morning-After Pills Don't Cause Abortion, Studies Say
npr ^ | 2-21-2013 | Julie Rovner

Posted on 02/25/2013 5:09:51 AM PST by Sir Napsalot

The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.

Specifically, do emergency contraceptives interfere with a fertilized egg and cause what some consider to be abortion?

"The Health and Human Services preventive services mandate forces businesses to provide the morning-after and the week-after pills in our health insurance plans," said David Green, founder and CEO of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, one of the firms suing over the requirements. "These abortion-causing drugs go against our faiths."

The morning-after pill he's referring to is sold under the brand name Plan B. The week-after pill, which actually only works for five days after unprotected sex, is called ella.

Both are classified by the Food and Drug Administration as contraceptives. Neither is the same as the abortion drug RU486, or Mifeprex. That pill isn't considered a contraceptive and isn't covered by the new insurance requirements.

The constant references to Plan B and ella as abortion-causing pills frustrates Susan Wood, a professor of health policy at George Washington University and a former assistant commissioner for women's health at the FDA.

"It is not only factually incorrect, it is downright misleading. These products are not abortifacients," she says. "And their only connection to abortion is that they can prevent the need for one."

That's not a universal medical opinion, however.

"It would be my preference that none of these products had any potential to cause abortion or post-fertilization effects — that would be my preference — but we don't know that," says Gene Rudd, senior vice president of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and a practicing OB-GYN in Bristol, Tenn.

That's not really the case anymore.

For years, scientists knew the pills, particularly Plan B, were highly effective in preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex but weren't exactly sure how they managed that. "It wasn't really clear whether it worked before ovulation or after ovulation," says Wood.

Scientists did know the drug worked primarily by preventing ovulation. It stops an egg from being released from a woman's ovary and thus prevents any chance of fertilization and pregnancy. But they also thought the drug might make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in a woman's uterus.

Technically, that's not an abortion, says Wood.

"We know that about half of fertilized eggs never stick around. They just pass out of the woman's body," she says. "An abortifacient is something that interrupts an established pregnancy."

But people like Rudd worry that even if what the drugs do is not technically abortion, it's still objectionable if it happens after fertilization.

But it turns out, at least when it comes to Plan B, there is now fairly definitive research that shows the only way it works is by preventing ovulation, and therefore, fertilization.

"We've learned a lot about how these drugs work," says Diana Blithe, a biochemist and contraceptive researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "I think it's time to revise our speculations about how things might work in view of data that show how things do work."

For example, says Blithe, a study published just last year led the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics to declare that Plan B does not inhibit implantation. And some abortion opponents in the medical community are beginning to accept that conclusion.

"Up until recently I would not prescribe the Plan B product because we didn't have enough science to say it doesn't have a post-fertilization effect," says Rudd. "Now, I'm becoming — sitting on the fence with that."

Less, however, is known about ella, the other widely available emergency contraceptive. And that's where the controversy continues to rage.

"It kills embryos. And it kills embryos before they implant, and it kills embryos after they implant," says Donna Harrison, director of research and public policy for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Harrison says the biggest problem with ella is that it's a chemical cousin of the abortion pill RU-486. "So at an equal dose of ella and RU-486, they cause equal actions," she says.

But NIH's Blithe, who worked to bring ella to market, says that's wrong. First of all, she says, a woman would never take ella and RU-486 in similar doses "unless they were trying to harm themselves."

But more importantly, while the drugs may be related, ella works much differently. "It's chemically similar [to RU-486], but it was designed to have stronger effects on the ovary and less effect on the endometrium," she says. RU-486 works in part by changing the lining of the uterus — the endometrium — to make it impossible for an early pregnancy to be sustained.

Blithe says studies have also shown that ella, like Plan B, doesn't prevent pregnancy if a woman has already ovulated. Women who took the drug after ovulation got pregnant at the same rate as those who took nothing at all. She says that strongly suggests it does not have any effect on blocking implantation.

Ella opponents aren't convinced. "To be as successful as they say it is, it would have to have post-fertilization effects," says Rudd.

But opposition seems to be waning in Europe.

Ella is now available in heavily Roman Catholic Italy, for example. And on Thursday, Germany's conference of bishops said both drugs are acceptable to give to rape victims in Catholic hospitals.

TOPICS: Unclassified
Be sure to read the original article, it has lots of links to the various studies.
1 posted on 02/25/2013 5:09:59 AM PST by Sir Napsalot
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To: Sir Napsalot

It’s interesting, but if the govt is financing the research, it’s suspect. The problem we have with these people is they lie. So I don’t know whether to believe their assertions concerning the morning after pill or Ella.

2 posted on 02/25/2013 5:17:39 AM PST by discipler (How's that 'hope and change' working for 'ya? - RL)
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To: Sir Napsalot
Regardless, it does not matter.

7 Deadly Sins

6)Lust is the vehement disorder of sexual desires, as in the case of the so-called "homosexual lifestyle" or the widespread phenomenon of "living together." Lust reduces human sexuality to genitality. As a result, lust tends to distort human sexual genital activity into a form of recreation. Ironically and tragically, lust leads to a fear of fertility and to an animosity for children, as expressed in practices such as rape, sterilization, contraception, abortion, pornography, child molestation, adultery, and divorce.

3 posted on 02/25/2013 5:26:57 AM PST by mlizzy (If people spent an hour a week in Eucharistic adoration, abortion would be ended. --Mother Teresa)
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To: Sir Napsalot

Perhaps even the act of contraception and master baiting would be forbidden and the streets would be littered with Mazeratis and flaming taxis causing chaos. But it would be “pure” chaos.

4 posted on 02/25/2013 5:36:51 AM PST by soycd
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To: discipler

“Technically, that’s not an abortion, says Wood.”

Lying female dog.

5 posted on 02/25/2013 5:47:27 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (Texas is a state of mind - Steinbeck)
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To: mlizzy

“Regardless, it does not matter.”

Absolutely true. Even if lust weren’t a driver, other self-interests (finances, convenience, etc.) thwart not only God’s entry into the process of creation but mankind’s as well.

6 posted on 02/25/2013 6:08:58 AM PST by Mach9
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To: JCBreckenridge

Abortifacient, artificial contraception, whatever you want to call it, the government has NO ability to force an individual or business to purchase a good or service!!! GET THAT THROUGH YOUR F-ING SKULLS, YOU FACISTS!!!

7 posted on 02/25/2013 6:12:28 AM PST by reegs
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To: Sir Napsalot

Their goal is to lay down enough smoke and fiction (insurance companies will give it away for free, and it really doesn’t cause abortions anyway) to entice the Social Justice crowd to buy-in and create a rift within the Catholic Church.

8 posted on 02/25/2013 6:23:13 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Sir Napsalot

“But they also thought the drug might make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in a woman’s uterus.

Technically, that’s not an abortion, says Wood.”

Splitting hairs there, Wood. Children who would otherwise grow up to be healthy humans are being killed by the drug, so whether you call it an abortion or not does not really matter to people with principles.

9 posted on 02/25/2013 6:41:27 AM PST by Boogieman
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To: Sir Napsalot

A human zygote is, well, a human. If it is denied implantation in the uterine wall, it will die.

Plain and simple: To purposely deny a human zygote implantation is to murder that individual.

‘Nuff said.


10 posted on 02/25/2013 7:15:44 AM PST by DoctorBulldog (Obama sucks. End of story.)
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To: discipler

The most common brand of the morning after pill is called Plan B. The active ingredient in Plan B is levonorgestrel 1.5 mg. This is a progesterone type hormone. This same hormone is used in many birth control pills at a lower dose (bcps are most commonly an estrogen and a progesterone but they vary by which estrogen and which progesterone is used). Back when Plan B didn’t exist patients would be told to take multiple birth control pills for the same effect. Birth control pills stop the egg from being released from the ovary. If a girl gets pregnant on the pill (happens) the pill won’t cause a miscarriage or hurt the baby. The safety info on the Plan B website is good:
From my understanding of this product it would reduce abortions. I am not sure about the Ella.

11 posted on 02/25/2013 9:09:20 AM PST by Be Loved GA
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