By Kathleen Gilbert

October 12, 2010 ( – As abortion giant Planned Parenthood pushes to force health insurers to cover all birth control, a coalition of pro-life leaders is sounding the alarm about ella, a drug the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved as an emergency contraceptive despite its ability to kill newly-conceived children.

EllaOne, approved unanimously by an FDA advisory panel June 17, is advertised as effective “contraception” up to five days, or 120 hours after intercourse. However, pro-life leaders and experts have castigated the FDA for approving the drug as a contraceptive despite the fact that its chemical make-up and function are nearly identical to the abortion drug RU-486, which has been linked to the reported deaths of at least twelve women, according to the Family Research Council’s tally.

A pro-life coalition, including Students for Life of America, the Family Research Council, Life Issues Institute, the Human Life Alliance, and Concerned Women for America, has created a website aimed at revealing the truth behind the drug. The drug’s packaging contains no reference to its potential to kill embryonic children.

In a Family Research Council video, Dr. Donna Harrison explains that RU-486 is the “parent drug” of ella. “They are of the same class of drugs,” says Harrison, “which is progesterone reception modulators” – a function that can block conception, but also disallows an already-conceived embryo from receiving nourishment in its mother’s womb.

The Ella Causes Abortion website now features a downloadable flyer by the Family Research Council petitioning pharmacists not to stock the abortifacient drug.

“By labeling ella an EC [emergency contraceptive], the FDA is denying informed consent to women who will take ella AND to pharmacists who will not know that ella can cause an abortion,” states the flyer. “Pharmacists who are asked to fill prescriptions for ella have an ethical right to know that the drug may cause an abortion and women desiring to purchase ella have a right to know it may cause an abortion.”

Planned Parenthood has meanwhile launched a campaign to make birth control available for free to every woman under federal health care reform – a plan that, coupled with the devastating effects of ella, would unleash abortions on an unprecedented scale throughout the country.

“Affordable prescription birth control is an essential part of health care for millions of women,” states Planned Parenthood on its political action website. “The time has come to provide birth control at no cost to every woman who wants it.”

The organization has launched a petition to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to interpret the new health reform law to “require health plans to provide prescription birth control to women with no co-pays” as part of “preventive care.”

Perhaps the only direct challenge to Planned Parenthood’s campaign so far has come from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which argued in a letter to the HHS last month that birth control is not preventive health care at all, since “abortion is not itself a disease condition, but a separate procedure that is performed only by agreement between a woman and a health professional.” The letter also pointed to the link between contraception and higher abortion rates among unintended pregnancies.

“[Contraception] is almost always prescribed for personal or lifestyle reasons, not for any specific medical justification, and it poses its own serious risks and side-effects, some of which can be life-threatening,” they wrote. “Use of prescription contraception actually increases a woman’s risk of developing some of the very conditions that the ‘preventive’ listed in the Interim Final Rules are designed to prevent.”

The bishops also noted that forcing health insurers to cover birth control would amount to “an unprecedented threat to rights of conscience for religious employers.”

“Currently, [employers and insurance providers] are completely free under federal law to purchase and offer health coverage that excludes these procedures,” they wrote. “They would lose this freedom of conscience under a mandate for all plans to offer contraception and sterilization coverage.”