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Winning the Messaging Battle, Part II

The Truth Behind Abortion Pills

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Editors' note: this piece is co-authored by Jeanne Monahan.

The abortion industry is in celebratory mode these days. They are rapidly achieving a long hoped-for goal of making chemical abortions more acceptable and easily accessible. The problem is they are resorting to profound and dangerous deception to get what they want.

On Friday, August 13 – after 5 p.m., when most of the nation’s capital had left for a lazy summer weekend – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly announced approval of “ella,” a new and more effective “Emergency Contraceptive (EC).” Although the drug is officially categorized as an EC, if you read the enclosed label closely, you will read that “alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy.” That’s a scientific, confusing and perhaps less jolting way of saying “ella can abort an already implanted baby.”

On further investigation of ella’s label, you will find that in studies done involving pregnant animals, all the baby rats and half of the baby rabbits were aborted as a result of the drug. This information comes as no surprise given that ella has an almost identical chemical makeup as the one FDA approved abortion drug in the United States, mifepristone, popularly known as RU-486. Ella and RU-486 are both selected progesterone receptor modulators (SPRM). Ella is the first ever SPRM to be approved as an EC. SPRMs block progesterone which a developing baby needs to survive its first weeks of life. In essence, ella and RU-486 “starve” a baby of necessary nutrition, thereby causing its demise.

Unfortunately, the average woman taking ella will not know about the drug’s abortifacient capacity because frankly, the label doesn’t make it easy to understand this particular mechanism of action. This is a serious violation of a woman’s right to informed consent. The difference between preventing and destroying life is hugely significant. Women deserve to know what drugs are doing to their bodies and their babies. Studies show that as many as 40 percent of women would not use a form of contraception if they learned that it worked after implantation.

In early August, 91 members of Congress, including fourteen Democrats, sent a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg expressing serious concerns that ella not be approved unless there was evidence it would not cause an abortion before and after implantation. According to the letter, “If ella will be marketed as an EC, women deserve to see evidence demonstrating that ella will not destroy or harm an unborn child.”

The letter raised critical questions about the similarities between ella and RU-486, and the lack of research conducted to show that ella will not cause abortions. The letter also addressed the very likely dangers of off-label drug use, as well as ella’s potential health risks for women.

RU-486 has been known to suppress a woman’s immune system, making her more prone to infection and bleeding. Evidence of this includes the over 1000 adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in the few years following the approval of RU-486, including six deaths. Because of the chemical similarity between ella and RU-486, there are serious concerns that ella will have similar side effects.

Ignoring these concerns demonstrates that the FDA is motivated by advancing an abortion agenda more than providing Americans with the necessary information for informed consent. This, from an Administration that has repeatedly promised a commitment to “transparency” and “science.” Interestingly, the FDA recently issued a warning letter to the company Novartis about false labeling of a cancer drug. Sadly, the same labeling standards are not applied to drugs that can cause abortions.

There is another grave component to this discussion that one need consider: Approval of ella might open the back door to taxpayer funding of abortion. Due to annual appropriations restrictions on funding abortion, Congress does not allow Medicaid and certain other government programs to pay for abortions (except in the case of life, rape and incest). These abortion funding restrictions apply to the abortion drug RU-486. However, the government does pay for ECs. Therefore, since the FDA has categorized ella as an EC, rather than as an abortifacient, it is very likely that the government will begin paying for ella.

The truth is that abortion drugs are not about women’s health but are really a seemingly innocuous means of advancing a radical agenda. Little pills, given by a doctor, seem both easy and reassuring.

For both women and their unborn children, they can be deadly. The FDA owes the American people the honesty to admit it.


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