The French drug (named "ella"), capable of preventing successful impregnation several days after fertilization, challenges "the Obama administration's pledge to keep ideology from influencing scientific decisions."
UPDATE 6/17/10: Federal advisory panel unanimously recommends pill for FDA approval
-- From "New 'morning-after' pill, ella, raises debate over similarity to abortion drug" by Rob Stein, Washington Post 6/12/10
The drug, dubbed ella, would be sold as a contraceptive -- one that could prevent pregnancy for as many as five days after unprotected sex. But the new drug is a close chemical relative of the abortion pill RU-486, raising the possibility that it could also induce abortion by making the womb inhospitable for an embryo.
The controversy sparked by that ambiguity promises to overshadow the work of a federal panel that will convene next week to consider endorsing the drug. The last time the Food and Drug Administration vetted an emergency contraceptive -- Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill -- the decision was mired in debate over such fundamental questions as when life begins and the distinction between preventing and terminating a pregnancy. Ella is raising many of those same politically charged questions -- but more sharply, testing the Obama administration's pledge to keep ideology from influencing scientific decisions.
Plan B, which works for up to 72 hours after sex, was eventually approved for sale without a prescription, although a doctor's order is required for girls younger than 17. The new drug promises to extend that period to at least 120 hours. Approved in Europe last year, ella is available as an emergency contraceptive in at least 22 countries.
Plan B prevents a pregnancy by administering high doses of a hormone that mimics progesterone. It works primarily by inhibiting the ovaries from producing eggs. Critics argue it can also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, which some consider equivalent to an abortion.
"The difference between preventing life and destroying life is hugely significant to many women," said Jeanne Monahan, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity. "Women deserve to know that difference."
For details explaining these drugs, CLICK HERE to read the entire article.