The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new emergency contraceptive, Ella or ulipristal acetate, which is effective at preventing pregnancy up to five days after contraceptive failure or unprotected sexual intercourse. In June, a panel of FDA expert medical advisors unanimously agreed that it is safe and effective in preventing the release of an egg. The drug inhibits or delays ovulation by diminishing the effects of progesterone, according to theFDA release.
According to the New York Times, Ella is more effective than Plan B, the "morning-after" pill available over the counter to women over the age of 17 in the United States. Plan B is only effective three days after contraceptive failure or unprotected sex. Side effects of Ella are similar to those of Plan B, including headache, nausea, abdominal pain, pain/discomfort during menstruation (dysmenorrhea), fatigue, and dizziness, according to WebMD Health News.
The drug, under the name EllaOne, is made by French company HRA Pharma. It is available with a prescription in Europe and is currently approved in 22 countries. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. will distribute Ella in the United States.
Anti-choice advocates argue that EllaOne is akin to mifepristone, which terminates existing pregnancies. According to Reuters, supporters of EllaOne agree that the drug is chemically similar to mifepristone, but one dose will not interfere with existing pregnancies. "There's just no evidence that it causes abortion," said Dr. Paul Fine, a Baylor College of Medicine professor and the medical director for Planned Parenthood in Houston and Southeast Texas.
Planned Parenthood has commended the FDA's decision. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said, "Every woman deserves every option available to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, and there are many reasons why a woman may face the risk of unintended pregnancy, from failure or improper use of birth control to sexual assault," in a statement. "The FDA's approval of this new form of emergency contraception gives women one more option."
Media Resources: FDA Release; Feminist Newswire 6/16/10, 6/18/10; Los Angeles Times 8/13/10; New York Times 8/13/10; WebMD Health News 8/13/10; Planned Parenthood Press Release 8/13/10; Reuters 6/15/10
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .