Writing to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about a new “emergency contraceptive” that may induce early abortions, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said approval of “Ella” would endanger newly conceived life. Women who would never have a surgical abortion deserve to know about the drug’s possible abortifacient effects, he added.
The cardinal, who is the Archbishop of Houston-Galveston and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, voiced “grave concern” in his Thursday letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg about Ulpristal, whose proposed market name is Ella or ellaOne.
He said the decision to hold an FDA advisory meeting on Ulpristal was held without “broad public input” and without a full record on the drug’s safety “for women or their unborn children.”
Concerns about other “emergency contraception drugs” focus on their potential not only to prevent ovulation but also implantation of a developing embryo in his or her mother’s womb, Cardinal DiNardo explained. While these drugs were thought to have no post-implantation effects, he warned that Ulpristal is “a close analogue” to the abortion drug RU-486.
“It can disrupt an established pregnancy weeks after conception has taken place,” he wrote.
Its proposed use is targeted at women “who may have already conceived,” he noted. “No existing pregnancy test can exclude the possibility that a new life has been conceived in this time frame. Indeed, advocates praise this drug as an advance precisely because it seems to retain its full efficacy five days after intercourse – that is, after the opportunity to prevent fertilization has passed.”
Women who oppose abortion but not contraception also deserve to know the effects of Ulpristal, the cardinal added.
“Millions of American women, even those willing to use a contraceptive to prevent fertilization in various circumstances, would personally never choose to have an abortion,” he commented, saying they would not be served by a “misleading campaign” to present the drug as only a contraceptive.
Further, he warned, FDA approval of the drug for contraceptive purposes would likely make it available for “off-label” use as an abortion drug, and for use by unscrupulous men who intend to cause an early abortion without a woman’s knowledge or consent.
Cardinal DiNardo noted the Obama Administration’s stated policy to promote access to contraception as a means to reduce abortions, charging that the approval of a “known abortion-causing drug” is not consistent with that policy.
The cardinal closed by reporting that he would continue to follow further discussion and action on Ulpristal with great interest.