Warns Against “Emergency Contraceptive” Ulipristal

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 18, 2010 .- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Texas, is speaking out against the approval of a drug, Ulipristal, that, although it would be called an “emergency contraceptive,” could also cause unwanted abortions.

The cardinal, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ conference Committee on Pro-Life Activities, sent a letter Thursday to Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to voice “grave concern.”

He spoke out against the administration’s decision to hold an advisory committee hearing Thursday to advance the approval of the drug Ulipristal, or “Ella,” for use as an “emergency contraceptive.”

This hearing was convened “without broad public input or a full record on the drug’s safety for women or their unborn children,” and it “does not demonstrate an understanding of the new medical and moral issues it presents,” the prelate asserted.

He noted that concerns have already been raised about drugs proposed as “emergency contraception,” such as the “Plan B” regimen, since “they might act not only to prevent ovulation but also to prevent implantation of the developing embryo in his or her mother’s womb.”

These drugs, the cardinal continued, “were thought to have no post-implantation effects,” unlike the new Ulipristal, “a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486.”

In other words, he added, “it can disrupt an established pregnancy weeks after conception has taken place.”

Cardinal DiNardo noted that the drug’s proposed use “is targeted precisely at women who may already have conceived, as it would be administered within five days after ‘unprotected’ sex or contraceptive failure.”

In fact, he added, the drug has been praised precisely because “it seems to retain its full efficacy five days after intercourse — that is, after the opportunity to prevent fertilization has passed.”

A woman’s choice

“Millions of American women, even those willing to use a contraceptive to prevent fertilization in various circumstances, would personally never choose to have an abortion,” the prelate pointed out.

He continued: “They would be ill served by a misleading campaign to present Ulipristal simply as a ‘contraceptive.’

“In fact, [the Food and Drug Administration] approval for that purpose would likely make the drug available for ‘off-label’ use simply as an abortion drug — including its use by unscrupulous men with the intent of causing an early abortion without a woman’s knowledge or consent.

“Such abuses have already occurred in the case of RU-486, despite its warning labels and limited distribution.”

The cardinal acknowledged that the current U.S. administration “has voiced support for federal laws to ensure that no one is involved in abortion without his or her knowledge or consent.”

“And the administration’s support for broad access to contraception has been defended as serving the goal of reducing abortions,” he added.

In this perspective, Cardinal DiNardo pointed out, “plans for approving a known abortion-causing drug as a ‘contraceptive’ for American women is not consistent with the stated policy of the administration on these matters.”

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