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
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .