Adam Cassandra

,

South Korean FDA drops prescriptions for emergency contraception

Adam Cassandra
By Adam Cassandra
Image

June 8, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - The Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) announced Thursday that the purchase of emergency contraceptives, known as morning-after pills, will no longer be regulated by medical doctors, and the drugs will now be available over-the-counter (OTC).

The KFDA also reversed its policy on non-emergency oral contraceptives, announcing that purchase will require a doctor’s prescription beginning as early as next year. The pills are currently available OTC except for Bayer’s Yasmin and Yaz brands, which have been under investigation by the U.S. FDA for elevated risk of blood clots. A prescription for emergency contraceptives will still be required for teenagers.

“According to our panel of experts, the main mechanism behind the emergency pills is the interference of hormonal action, linked to interference of implantation. It is not an abortion,” said Cho Ki-ho, a KFDA official.

The Korea Herald reported that Catholics in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, held a protest in front of the KFDA headquarters prior to Thursday’s announcement urging authorities to maintain the current classification of the drug.

Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun of Cheongju, president of the Committee for Bioethics of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) argued fiercely against reclassifying emergency contraceptives as OTC drugs in a May 6, 2012 letter:

“The Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) and some NGOs have argued recently that the morning-after pill should fall under the category of an over-the-counter drug because it can cut the abortion rate. … For the last thirty years the government in promoting a policy to curb overpopulation has played a decided role in the diffusion of contempt for life and the infringement upon the dignity of human life, because it has overlooked and even encouraged the practice of unethical artificial contraception and abortion. As a result, our society is now facing a serious low birth rate.”

The bishop called the use of artificial contraception “an ethically unjustifiable act” and argued that the morning-after pill “is also a kind of contraceptive infringing upon human life.”

“Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said that abortion is the most severe violence against the peace of the world,” he said. “Just as we cannot tolerate visible school violence, so we cannot tolerate the invisible violence of abortion and the morning-after pill.”

CLICK ‘LIKE’ IF YOU ARE PRO-LIFE!

The Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) issued a statement last week urging the government to list emergency contraceptives as OTC drugs, and claimed deregulation would decrease the number of illegal abortions in South Korea.

“Emergency pills are effective when taken within 12 hours of sexual intercourse and 72 hours utmost. Finding and visiting a doctor in that limited time is very difficult,” the KPA said.

“In a way, conventional pills are much riskier,” said Kim Koo, head of the KPA. “Long-term exposure to oral contraceptives is much more harmful. Think of it, your hormone secretion is being manipulated regularly for years. But many of them are sold without doctors’ prescription.”

The KFDA recognizes that the side effects of oral contraceptives can include thrombosis, thromboembolism, thrombo puerperalis, myocardial infarction, cerebral hemorrhage and cerebral thrombosis, among others, and bans the pills from being administered to women with breast cancer, endometrial cancer, hepatitis and thromboembolism. Women who are over 40 years old, obese, have headaches, depression or other related conditions are also restricted from obtaining the pills.

“In order to prevent pregnancy, women are advised to take the pills for 21 days a month then take a seven-day break. This pattern goes on forever. It affects the hormonal activities of the body. We need a careful approach to the issue,” the KFDA’s Kim Sung-ho said.

But when it comes to emergency contraceptives, KFDA authorities do not appear to be concerned about harmful side effects. The cited reason for the lack of concern was that health officials have not observed many of the more serious side effects in Korean women: “The most commonly reported side effects of the drug, including irregular menstruation, headache, nausea and vomiting, are reported to cease within 48 hours. Thromboembolism and other serious adverse effects have not yet been reported in Korea.”

The Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology warned of the harmful side effects of emergency contraception in a statement released prior to the KFDA ruling in which the group argued to keep the current restrictions in place.

“Emergency pills shift the hormonal action of the body to an extreme level since it should be able to prevent conception. The hormone contained in the drug is 10-15 times stronger than regular pills. Then how critical can that be? It naturally requires doctors’ consideration and monitoring,” said Chung Ho-jin of the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The group also did not agree with claims that greater access to emergency contraceptives would curb the number of abortions: “In Sweden, the morning-after pills were reclassified as OTC from 2001. By 2007, the abortion rate increased by 17 percent. The more important thing is that the failure rate of the abortion pills is more than 15 percent, which shows that the drug is not a cure to irresponsible sex.”

The Catholic Church in South Korea is not likely to relent in its opposition to the government’s action on contraceptives. In an effort to strengthen the clergy’s understanding of life and family issues, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun recently commissioned the translation of Human Life International’s A Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook, and sent copies to every priest in South Korea. The publication was specifically designed to help priests, seminarians and other religious and lay teachers of the Catholic faith examine questions about contraception, abortion, end of life issues, assisted reproductive technologies, and the Sacrament of Marriage.

“The KPA and pharmaceutical companies must have deep concern for health and sound sexual morals of the youth and not just focus on their profits,” said the bishop in May. “[T]hough it is a long and difficult way, we have to walk together towards respect for life and sound sexual morality.”

Reprinted with permission from HLIWorldWatch.org


Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


Advertisement
Featured Image
Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook