EC untested for safety

Several of your readers told me that a recent article in the Hook [March 17: "Panic Button: Finding the 'morning after' pill"] gave the impression that I am opposed to "any form of contraception."

On the contrary, the idea that I or the Central Virginia Family Forum opposes any form of contraception is wholly false. CVFF has no position on true contraception, which stops the union of an egg and sperm.

We do oppose the marketing of the Morning After Pill or Plan B as "emergency contraception" since, depending on when they are taken in a woman's cycle, they can also prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

A more pressing question for Hook readers is whether the drugs are effective and safe. You selectively included the results of the study published in the January 5 Journal of the American Medical Association. The study of 2,117 women ages 15 to 24 showed that providing young women with non-prescription access to Emergency Contraception (EC) demonstrated no decrease in the pregnancy rate.

Another study in Scotland over 28 months with nearly 18,000 women given advance provision of EC demonstrated no decrease in the abortion rate.

Nevertheless, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages doctors to give each woman a prescription for EC at all routine visits– without an immediately preceding physician's evaluation, even though their policy for common birth control pills (the same drugs in much lower doses) requires an annual physician's evaluation.

Since there are widely documented problems with birth control pills, including blood clots, heart disease, and contraindications with certain diseases or habits such as smoking, one wonders why medical authorities assume these same pills are safe in much higher doses.

Finally, although the drugs have FDA approval, there has never been a single long-term study of the effects of this high-dose hormone regimen on the women who have taken it. This would be unacceptable with virtually all other drugs, which usually undergo multi-year studies to uncover potential serious problems.

Moreover, there has been no research to determine the maximum safe dose of these compounds, whether in a month, a year, or a lifetime. Many commonly used medications have maximum safe doses, and taking more can have serious health consequences, even if they are not immediately apparent.

This is information that every young woman should know and consider before she uses so-called "emergency contraception."

Marnie Deaton, Director of CVFF