Plan B morning-after contraceptive is not abortion pill, US to specify

FDA regulators to change packaging labels to make clear pill will not work if person is already pregnant

The US food and drug administration (FDA) has announced it will change packaging labels for the emergency contraceptive Plan B to specify that it is not an abortion pill.

According to many anti-abortion activists, any form of disruption to an egg is considered an abortion.

The FDA said on Friday it would remove all references on packaging that claims the pill might prevent a fertilized egg implanting in the womb.

“Plan B One-Step will not work if a person is already pregnant, meaning it will not affect an existing pregnancy,” the FDA said. “Plan B One-Step prevents pregnancy by acting on ovulation, which occurs well before implantation.

“Evidence does not support that the drug affects implantation or maintenance of a pregnancy after implantation, therefore it does not terminate a pregnancy.”

The over-the-counter drug can be used after sex to prevent pregnancy. According to FDA recommendations, Plan B should be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.

The medication, which comes in the form of one tablet, contains a higher dose of the synthetic hormone levonorgestrel than birth control pills and works in a similar way by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary.

According to the FDA update on Friday, the agency is making the label changes at the request of the manufacturer of Plan B and after “careful consideration of … additional scientific evidence”.

“FDA determined the current science supports a conclusion that Plan B One-Step works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation and the mid-cycle hormonal changes,” the agency said.

“The evidence also supports the conclusion that there is no direct effect on fertilization or implantation.”

In a 2021 survey released by the Centers for Disease Control, 24.3% of women aged 22 to 49 indicated they had used emergency contraception.

In the wake of the supreme court decision to overturn Roe v Wade earlier this year, thereby removing the right to abortion, numerous pharmacies reportedly set limits on the number of emergency contraception pills consumers could buy.

Access to the emergency contraceptive remains severely limited in several conservative states.

Despite the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, saying rape victims can take Plan B, the pill reportedly remains unavailable for some of the poorest Texans, especially as it can sell for up to $50 (£41).

In Idaho, public universities have warned employees against guiding students on how to obtain emergency contraception, as they could be charged with a felony.

Under the state No Public Funds for Abortion Act, university staffers and school-based health clinics are prohibited from dispensing or telling students where to get emergency contraception, except in instances of rape.


Maya Yang

The GuardianTramp

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