Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fighting Politics At The FDA

Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is taking a swing back at the unethical politicizing of the FDA approval process by seeking Governor Jim Doyle's permission to sue the government agency over its refusal to approve Plan B for over-the-counter sales.

From The Capital Times:

In a letter to Doyle today, Lautenschlager said the FDA has stalled a decision on the contraceptive's sales "in an unprecedented fashion."

She suggested that the delay is affecting state agencies and state residents by increasing the number of unwanted pregnancies in Wisconsin.

"If the FDA had not delayed its decision, it appears likely that there would be substantial differences in the areas of prenatal care, schooling and health costs related to teenage mothers continuing with pregnancies and giving birth, abortion, and complications from abortions," Lautenschlager wrote.

For those unfamiliar, Plan B, or "the morning after pill" is an emergency contraceptive, currently available only through prescription, that provides a concentrated dose of the same birth control used by millions of women monthly. Evidence suggests that it is most effective when used early and the FDA initially seemed set to approve it for OTC use. Opponents of Plan B contend that, by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, Plan B acts as a "chemical abortion" and thus has been staunchly opposed by Bush and his Anti-Choice allies. Concern about the health effects of Plan B have coalesced mainly around its use by young teenage girls, though research has not shown that any such concern is warranted.

The real objection to this medication by social conservatives revolves, again, around the issues of sexual freedom and abortion. Medical science certainly does not define an abortion as a failure to implant; such definition is nothing more than ignorant political rhetoric along the lines of "partial-birth abortion". It's a central tenant of the conservative ideology also that pregnancy is the just punishment for sexual impropriety on the part of a woman. Birth control, they believe, leads to sexual promiscuity because it allows women to escape their "just punishment" for sex.

It's heartening to see Democrats in Wisconsin taking a strong stance against the rising tide of legislation attempting to make law of conservative social restrictions. Plan B prevents unwanted pregnancies which is the only proven way to lessen the number of abortions. Conservative ideology in this area has become so rigid that it actually harms its own aims. The FDA has allowed itself to give ground, sacrificing its commitment to science under the pressure of Bush's political and religious ideology.

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