U.S. bishops speak out against over-the-counter "emergency contraception"

.- Emergency contraceptives should not be switched from prescription to over-the-counter drugs, say the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The bishops urged the Food and Drug Administration to reject a proposal to switch the status of emergency contraceptives in comments they filed Dec. 5.

The bishops submitted their report after the FDA invited comments on the proposal, in preparation for a meeting of the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, Dec. 16. The committees are to consider making Plan B, or levonorgestrel-only, "emergency contraception" available without a prescription.

“The FDA has no mandate to promote and facilitate ways of preventing pregnancy that may cause the death of developing human life already conceived,” said the bishops’ statement.

“Making emergency contraceptives available over-the-counter will reverse the legal and medical trend toward greater recognition and protection of human embryonic life, by making chemical agents that can destroy life so easily obtainable," it added.

The comments noted that making "emergency contraception" available without a prescription would eliminate critical clinical monitoring and follow-up to address the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal complication. It would also make the drugs available to minor girls without the involvement of their parents or a family physician.

According to Cathy Cleaver Ruse, director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, "women are being misled about this drug, and putting it on the shelves of a drugstore would only exacerbate the problem. This proposal would put their health at risk and remove important protection for minor girls. And it would further coarsen the culture to the dignity of early human life."

For the USCCB’s full comment, go to www.usccb.org/ogc/ruleind.htm

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