Peru’s Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, said this week she will not reverse her decision to distribute the morning after pill, or emergency oral contraceptive, at Peruvian family planning centers and she denied the pill’s abortifacient nature on the basis of the supposed “latest” studies, which in reality are not so recent.
At the beginning of April, Mazzetti said she would await a decision of the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. concerning the effects of the drug Levonorgestrel before determining whether to use the drug in public health programs.
In Peru the Constitution protects the unborn. The morning after pill prevents a buildup of the lining of the uterus, thus causing the death of a fertilized ovum. The FDA published their latest information on the drug on May 7, 2004, on their website at http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/planB/planBQandA.htm.
The FDA reiterated that when consumed after fertilization has taken place, Plan B (as the drug is called in the U.S.) prevents implantation in the uterus.
Curiously Mazzetti won’t acknowledge an effect published by the companies that produce the drug, as reported at http://www.go2planb.com.
The drug makers make no attempt to hide the drug’s anti-implantation effect, but in order to avoid using the term “abortifacient” they rely on the World Health Organization’s definition of abortion as “the interruption of a pregnancy” and they claim pregnancy does not begin until implantation, which can occur several days after conception.
During a press conference yesterday, Mazzetti said the decision had been made and that the FDA’s reports are irrelevant because they are based on information from 2002—although she contradicted herself by acknowledging the FDA’s statement of last month—claiming that studies from 2003 and 2004 show the drug only “inhibits ovulation and the thickening of cervical mucous.”
Although Mazzetti didn’t offer further details on these studies to reporters, CNA has confirmed that Mazzetti was referring to a study done by Peruvian gynecologist Luis Tavara, who works for the United Nations Population Fund, an openly pro-abortion organization.
The study dates from 2002 and was carried out in Sweden by scientists from the Department of Health for Women and Children of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm. It is older than the most recent decision by the FDA, which did not appear to be influenced by the supposedly new information in the study.
Doctors who support distribution of the pill point to studies carried out on Chile in 2003 and 2004 which supposedly prove the pill does not prevent implantation, but those studies were done on rats and monkeys.
According to Carlos Beltramo of the Institute of Bioethics Studies of the Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, it is unusual that Mazzetti would “question the relevancy and rigor of the information provided by the FDA.”
“What is worrisome is that the Minister chose a public policy in the midst of so much debate and so little scientific support. Bioethics has an aspect that helps to establish a proper health policy. I think the Peruvian Minister of Health is not writing one of her best chapters,” he added.