/PRNewswire / -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced late on April 22 that it has expanded over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill, Levonorgestrel or "Plan B," for 17-year-old minors as well as to adults. Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy and Communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, objected to the move in the following statement:
"The FDA's court-driven decision to make Plan B available without a prescription to 17-year-old minors - as well as to adults - flies in the face of common sense. Levonorgestrel is a powerful drug, taken in two doses over a 12-hour period. It is 40 times more potent than comparable progestin-only birth control pills (Ovrette) for which a prescription is required.
"Wider access to Plan B could endanger the lives of newly-conceived children, and will put minors at risk for unnecessary side effects, undermine parental rights, and contribute to higher STD rates.
"Pregnancy is not a disease and fertility is not a pathological condition, so Plan B has no authentic therapeutic purpose, and can actually cause harm to women and their newly-conceived children.
"The FDA describes Plan B as 'a contraceptive drug.' Although Plan B can prevent fertilization, the manufacturer admits it may also prevent an embryo from implanting in the womb, which is essential to his or her continued survival. Since it takes several days for the growing embryo to reach the uterine lining and implant in the mother's womb, the child in his or her second week of life could die as a direct result of Plan B. This is properly understood as an early abortion.
"Without the benefit of a doctor's supervision, many teens will be unaware of this possible abortifacient action and the other risks posed by Levonorgestrel, particularly the risks from repeated use.
"Much to the surprise of the morning-after pill's early advocates, five years of research in Europe and the U.S. shows that increased access to emergency contraception has failed to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion. But it has led to greater sexual risk-taking among adolescent populations, in turn leading to higher rates of sexually-transmitted disease. In the unlikely event a teenager will bother to read the Plan B package insert all the way to the end, she will find sound advice: 'Of course, not having sex is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and stay free of STDs'."