Thursday, April 29, 2004

Plan B is coming 

MSNBC reports that Barr Pharmaceuticals believes it will get conditional approval to launch its "Plan B" emergency contraceptive as an over the counter drug. It is high time.

Doctors have known for years that a large dose of regular old birth control pills, taken within a day or two of unprotected sex, would prevent pregnancy. Family planning clinics, at least in liberal college towns, have been making such "emergency contraception" available to girls and women for years. There is no reason that I know of that birth control pills in appropriate doses should not be widely available, widely discussed, and sold over the counter. Indeed, in December an FDA Advisory Panel recommended that the FDA approve OTC sales of Barr's "Plan B" formulation. But the approval letter did not come.

There are a million reasons why the FDA might not get around to sending out an approval letter (I'm aware of one company with a delay in a long-pending approval simply because one particular FDA supervisor is on a long vacation), but the reproductive freedom crowd is convinced that the delay in this case derives from the abortion opponents in the Bush Administration. You see, if you are a hardcore pro-lifer, you probably think that "emergency contraception" is actually an abortifacient. Or maybe you are just against sex for fun.

In any case, the delay in Plan B has exorcised the flower of American feminism, who have organized a huge letter-writing and email dumping campaign to get the product out there. An apparent supporter of Plan B approval also penciled this cartoon, which a friend of mine called to my attention. He described it "as harsh as a mainstream cartoon gets." I agree.


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