(CNSNews.com) - A faith-based doctors group criticized the Food and Drug Administration Thursday for its decision to make the Plan B emergency contraception available over-the-counter, saying it was influenced by political pressure.
The Christian Medical Association, the nation's largest faith-based association of doctors, said it opposes the decision to allow the "morning-after pill" to be purchased without a prescription and doctor's oversight for women over 18. In fact, the group said the FDA made the same mistake with the abortion pill RU-486.
"The FDA's plan seems designed as a political compromise, but the FDA is supposed to insure health and safety apart from politics. The FDA seems to be making the same mistake with 'Plan B' that it made with RU-486--making a decision influenced by political pressure," Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the group, said in a statement.
"Removing this high dose of hormones from a doctor's oversight removes a vital safety protection from women. Like any drug, this drug involves side effects and risks, and its use needs to be carefully considered by a physician in light of an individual's medical history," said Stevens.
"Removing the drug from a doctor's care also circumvents routine screening for sexually transmitted diseases in a vulnerable population, which will put women at further risk," he said.
"There is evidence suggesting that sexually transmitted diseases have actually increased where the drug has been offered non-prescription basis. The drug has not been shown to decrease abortions as claimed," Stevens said.
Meanwhile, Care Net, a network of 975 pregnancy resource centers and medical clinics across North America, warned that the decision could have a devastating effect on women's health and result in an increase in sexually transmitted diseases rates.
Care Net President Kurt Entsminger warned that despite the FDA's age restriction, "teens will likely be among the most frequent consumers of the morning-after pill," he said. "This decision could also be the 'tipping point' which pushes the growing STD epidemic among teens into the category of a national disaster.
"International studies have shown that when the morning-after pill is available over-the-counter, STD rates increase. Drug users will bypass both medical exams and counsel, which have served to protect adolescents and women with contraindications from unknowingly putting their health at risk," Entsminger predicted.
"In addition," Entsminger said, "consumers are not being informed that in some cases it could terminate a pregnancy by causing a fertilized embryo to be expelled from the womb."
He warned that sexual predators could make use of the Plan B pill.
"Pregnancy centers are extremely concerned that Plan B could serve as another tool in the hand of sexual predators, as centers report an increasing number of instances of sexual abuse among our clients," Entsminger said.
"Because of this regretful decision, pregnancy center staff and volunteers are preparing to help assist a generation of women who will likely serve as guinea pigs in this unprecedented social health experiment," he concluded.
FDA Approves Nonprescription Sales of Plan B (Aug. 24, 2006)
Family Group Plans Legal Challenge To 'Plan B' Decision (Aug. 24, 2006)
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