The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the statement Dec. 17, after the federal Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs voted yesterday to approve a proposal to make the morning-after pill available without a prescription. The final decision is yet to be made by the FDA.
"A drug which destroys human embryos and puts women at greater risk of ectopic pregnancy does not belong on the shelves of a drug store," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
The petition to make the morning-after pill available without a prescription was filed by Women's Capital Corporation, a for-profit drug company, which has sold the Plan B distribution rights to Barr Laboratories.
"This is about a drug company that wants to sell more drugs to women," said Ruse. "It is being marketed and advertised as a contraceptive, but it works before and after conception. Women deserve to know what is being marketed to them." In other words, the morning-after pill functions as an abortifacient.
Making this drug available without a prescription also poses serious health risks to women, since the drug is associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal complication.
Proponents of the proposal claim that the drug does not terminate a pregnancy because pregnancy begins when the embryo implants in the uterine wall. "This is an argument about rhetoric, not reality," said Ruse.
"There is a difference between preventing new human life and destroying life that has already begun," Ruse noted. "Women are being misled about this drug, and putting it on the shelves of a drugstore would only exacerbate the problem."
The proposal also allows minor girls free access to the morning-after pill without their parents' knowledge.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has submitted a motion this month to Health Canada, which is also planning to make the morning-after pill available without a prescription.
The bishops argued from a pro-life perspective but also from the secular perspective – women, who receive the morning-after pill, are not informed by medical professionals or Health Canada about the damaging effects it can have to a woman’s health.
A doctor’s prescription for the morning-after pill is already unnecessary in Canada. Currently, the law permits women to access the drug with the prescription of a pharmacist.
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