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Over-the-counter pills put lives of more women at risk

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Over-the-counter pills putlives of more women at risk
Planned Parenthood of the Mahoning Valley Inc. CEO and President Karen Hackenberry asks & quot;Why will we be Marching for Women's Lives? & quot; (Vindicator, How You See It, Jan. 23). In answering her own question, she laments that certain pharmaceuticals are currently available only when prescribed by a physician.
Pro-abortion groups have failed to see that women's lives are being put at risk with increasing frequency, perhaps even at the corner drugstore in the near future.
Pills that may expose women to serious health risks, including ectopic (out of uterus) pregnancy, are now being considered for over-the-counter availability in the United States. FDA commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan will make the final decision soon. Pro-abortion groups have urged Dr. McClellan to make a decision based on science, not on politics.
We agree. Here are some of the scientific data he ought to consider:
Health officials in the United Kingdom have sent out alerts to physicians about the risks associated with so-called & quot;emergency contraception pills, & quot; marketed under the brand & quot;Plan B & quot; in this country. Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially fatal condition. UK health officials found 12 ectopic pregnancies out of 201 unintended pregnancies after the use of these drugs, representing a nearly five-fold increase in ectopic risk.
Over-the counter availability will allow these drugs to be used routinely, despite the fact that they are contraindicated for such use. If the pills are available for routine use, women for whom the drug is contraindicated (those with breast cancer, unexplained bleeding, liver tumors or acute liver disease) will not have the benefit of any clinical advice to alert them to the risks. FDA data shows that a third of all women (and a majority of women with low literacy) do not understand that the drugs are indicated for & quot;backup use & quot; and contraindicated for routine use.
Over-the-counter availability without medical counseling risks violating a woman's right to informed consent.
The pills can act as abortion agents, depending on when in a woman's (or teenage girl's) cycle they are taken. The progestin-only pills may suppress ovulation or may hinder an embryo's movement through the fallopian tube so he or she cannot implant in the womb. The progestin in Plan B, levonorgestrel, can alter endometrial receptivity to the human embryo. Over-the-counter availability will lead to a greater assault on human life at its earliest stages, and evidence shows that it will not reduce abortions at later stages.
Making the pills available over-the-counter could increase sexual risk-taking behavior among young girls. The marketing of the drugs already promotes this behavior. One ad shows a group of guys standing outside a college dorm with the caption: & quot;So many men. So many reasons to have backup contraception. & quot;
Please write to Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., commissioner of Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857, and tell him these drugs should not be available over the counter.
Catholic Diocese of Youngstown
Office of Pro-Life Activities
One man, one vote, one day
In your editorial of Jan. 21, "Iowa speaks, and the field of candidates narrows, & quot; you voiced a long-time concern of mine. My first choice has never made it to the Ohio primary ballot. I cannot agree, however, with your statement, "someone has to be first" WHY?
We have ONE national election day in November. WHY don't we have ONE NATIONAL PRIMARY DAY? Now, THAT would be election reform. I can hear all of the "but, what ifs" now. There's really no need to complicate it. It's simple. It COULD work.