(LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced Thursday that it has approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill, which starting next year will be available regardless of age.
The Associated Press reports that the FDA has approved Opill, manufactured by Irish company Perrigo, to be sold without a prescription. The pill, which is meant to be taken at the same time every day, uses progestin to block sperm from reaching the cervix, according to the manufacturer. The move follows a unanimous vote in May by a panel of outside advisers to the agency.
“This is really a transformation in access to contraceptive care [sic],” said Ibis Reproductive Health president Kelly Blanchard. “Hopefully this will help people overcome those barriers that exist now.”
“Common side effects of the pill include bleeding, headaches, dizziness, nausea and cramps, according to the FDA,” the AP reports. “The label also cautions that certain drugs can interfere with Opill’s effectiveness, including medications for seizures, HIV and hypertension.” The report adds that the pill could encourage the growth of tumors in women with a history of breast cancer.
Prior to that May vote, the FDA had expressed concern that the company’s instructions were not sufficiently clear for women with medical complications, and that in one of Perrigo’s studies 30% women reported taking more pills than were actually distributed for the study, throwing off the company’s data about the results.
Progestin-based contraceptives like Opill and Plan B are commonly promoted as alternatives to abortion because they supposedly prevent pregnancy rather than end it. In January, the FDA amended Plan B’s label to “clarify” that it was not an abortifacient. But such drugs do in fact have abortifacient potential, and whether they prevent conception or implantation depends on when they are taken relative to a woman’s cycle.
“If Plan B is taken five to two days before egg release is due to happen, the interference with the LH signal prevents a woman from releasing an egg, no fertilization happens, and no embryo is formed,” Dr. Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains, citing numerous studies. However, if the pill is taken during the “two-day window in which embryos can form but positive pregnancy tests don’t occur,” studies indicate it “has a likely embryocidal effect in stopping pregnancy.”
Further confusing the issue is the manipulation of semantics by activists in the medical establishment. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a purportedly impartial medical authority that in reality is heavily pro-abortion, redefined “conception” in the 1960s to refer to implantation rather than fertilization, for the purpose of making contraception more culturally acceptable.
Even so, a 2011 survey found that most OB/GYNs continued to say life begins at fertilization, not implantation, and a 2019 survey found that 96% of biologists “affirmed that a human’s life begins at fertilization.”
With last year’s overturn of Roe v. Wade allowing states to directly ban abortion, which fourteen states have done so far, left-wing activists have identified easier distribution of abortion and birth control pills as one of the most effective ways to preserve abortion “access,” even at the expense of patient safety.
Under the Biden administration, the FDA has eliminated the requirement that abortion pills only be dispensed in-person to the women taking them, and the Biden Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has declared that abortion pills may be freely mailed across the country, despite the fact that a provision of a 150-year-old law called the Comstock Act that expressly says the opposite.
A 2020 open letter from a coalition of pro-life groups to then-FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn noted that the FDA’s own adverse reporting system says the “abortion pill has resulted in over 4,000 reported adverse events since 2000, including 24 maternal deaths. Adverse events are notoriously underreported to the FDA, and as of 2016, the FDA only requires abortion pill manufacturers to report maternal deaths.”
Pro-lifers warn that with the Biden administration completely eliminating requirements that abortion pills be taken under any medical supervision or with medical support close by, those events are certain to increase.
The FDA has been accused of putting political ideology over sound medicine on other issues, as well, from approving COVID-19 shots for children to gutting restrictions on sexually-active homosexuals donating blood.