Does The Morning-After-Pill, ‘Ella,’ Cause Abortions? It Depends Upon Your Definition of Abortion!

Long-time readers of this blog know of the difficulties surrounding the labeling of a hormonal birth control medicine as an abortifacient. The crux of the issue is that if you define pregnancy as beginning when the unborn human implants in the uterus after his or her several day journey down the fallopian tube after conception/fertilization, then anything that kills the unborn human in the tube or prevents implantation is, by definition, NOT abortifacient.

If, however, you define pregnancy as beginning at conception/fertilzation (and there are debates about which term pro-life folks should use — see my blog on the topic here) then any chemical that kills the unborn human in the tube or prevents implantation is, by definition, IS abortifacient.

That’s why I use the term “post-fertilization effect.” To those of us who are pro-life, it is the same as “abortifacient.”

With that explanation, let me tell you about the efforts of pro-life advocates as we launch a campaign to warn pharmacists about the newly-approved drug Ella. The marketer of the so-called “emergency contraceptive” pill says it does not cause abortions (because they define pregnancy as beginning at implantation and the drug, apparently, does not affect the unborn human AFTER implantation). Here are the details from LifeNews.com:

The new drug is billed as a more effective morning after pill but its chemical makeup is similar to the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly announced approval of ella in August allowing Watson Pharmaceuticals to market the drug as an emergency contraception.

The FDA and Watson are able to call the drug non-abortifacient because they have redefined the beginning of pregnancy — changing it from conception to implantation. That makes it appear an unborn child after conception does not lose her life to the drug when testing in animals and humans make it clear the drug causes abortions.

But, since the drug is “effective” up to five days following intercourse, there is clearly sufficient time for conception to occur and for a unique human being’s life to be destroyed via use of the ella drug.

The FDA approval requires the ella drug to be sold with a prescription requirement tin the same manner as the RU 486 abortion drug, known as mifepristone and that has killed anywhere from 13-50 women worldwide. That means pharmacists will be involved in dispensing the drug to women who present valid prescriptions for it.

The Family Research Council has launched a campaign designed to get pro-life advocates to inform their pharmacists that ella causes abortions and to urge them to refrain from dispensing it.

“Due to the FDA’s approval of ‘ella’ as an EC, pharmacists may believe they must cover ella as a prescription drug,” FRC president Tony Perkins said in a recent email to the group’s members. “However, many pharmacists do not know about the dangers of this drug or that it functions like an abortifacient. Many pharmacies may not know ella can cause an abortion, and need to be aware of these concerns before they begin stocking this abortion drug.”

“To educate pharmacists around the country about this new abortion drug and shed light on its dangers, we ask you to download this informational flyer, take it to your local pharmacy, and respectfully ask your pharmacist not to offer the ella abortion drug,” he added.

But, Charlie Mayr of Watson Pharmaceuticals emailed the Washington Post today to defend the drug against the charges that it causes abortions.

“Watson recognizes and respects that there are varying opinions concerning contraception and emergency contraception. However, Watson believes that ella® represents an important additional emergency contraceptive option for women who elect to use emergency contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy following a contraceptive accident or incident of unprotected intercourse,” Mayr said.

Mayr added that “ella (ulipristal acetate) 30 mg tablet is not an abortifacient and the product is not RU-486.”

Perkins, in his email about the new campaign, disagrees.

“Ella is similar in its chemical make-up to RU-486 and therefore can destroy an implanted embryo, in addition to other such effects as preventing fertilization or preventing implantation,” he said. “Until now, the FDA has drawn the line between EC and abortion based on whether a drug prevents or ends an established pregnancy. Therefore, approving ella as an EC even under its own definition of an abortifacient is doubly misleading.”

Ella is the first selective progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM) available in the United States for the indication of “emergency contraception (EC).” According to the European Medicines Agency, SPRMs block progesterone which is necessary to maintain a pregnancy. This effectively deprives the unborn child in the womb of the nutrients he or she needs to live.

During the FDA advisory committee meeting, Americans United for Life and the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists told the FDA a study in England confirms the pro-life perspective that ulipristal acts as an abortion drug.

Anna Glasier, of NHS Lothian in Edinburgh, led a study of more than 5,500 women in the UK published online in The Lancet medical journal. It found fewer pregnancies among those women given the ellaOne drug within five days of intercourse.

And for women who took the drug between 3-5 days after having sex, only women taking the traditional morning after pill became pregnant. That’s because all of the women using ulipristal during that time period had abortions.

Related web sites:

FRC – http://www.frc.org

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