WASHINGTON – With less than a month left before the federal government decides whether to allow the sale of an emergency contraceptive pill without a prescription,some members of Congress made a final attempt Wednesday to derail the proposal.
Their arguments – including the possibility of increases in promiscuity,sexually transmitted diseases and child abuse – came during a press conference held by four Republican representatives.
They said,however,they don't intend to pursue legislation to prohibit making the so-called morning-after pill available over the counter.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make its decision in mid-February. It is likely to follow recommendations from two advisory committees to approve the proposal. A spokeswoman said the agency usually follows the committees' recommendations.
Rep. Dave Weldon,R-Fla.,said research needs to be done on the long-term effects of morning-after pills on adolescents and whether teens and pre-teens will risk having unsafe sex more often if the drug,commercially known as Plan B,becomes available over the counter.
Another concern dealt with child molesters having easier access to emergency contraceptives to hide the abuse.
Rep. Don Manzullo,R-Ill.,said molesters could “keep a stash” of the morning-after pills to administer to their victims.
“We should not grant sexual predators another tool to aid in their assault,” Manzullo said.
That argument is far-fetched,said Kirsten Moore,president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project,an organization that promotes education and acceptance of emergency contraceptives.
“To link the two,to assume that easier access to an emergency contraceptive is somehow going to engender sexual predatory behavior is insulting. It's nonsensical,” she said.
Reps. Melissa Hart,R-Pa.,and Chris Smith,R-N.J.,also spoke at the news conference.
“Fundamentally,they're opposed to teens having access to and information about products that could reduce unintentional pregnancy,” said Marilyn Keefe,vice president for public policy at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association,a non-profit advocacy group.
She said the FDA's decision should be based on whether the drugs are safe and effective,not on “bizarre” what-ifs.
The FDA allowed doctors to prescribe Plan B emergency contraceptive pills in 1999. The pills are up to 89 percent affective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.