But starting in 2002, studies offered evidence that morning-after pills do not block implantation. Indeed, some organizations, when confronted with the New York Times‘s findings, changed their information to reflect these:
After The Times asked about this issue, A.D.A.M., the firm that writes medical entries for the National Institutes of Health Web site, deleted passages suggesting emergency contraceptives could disrupt implantation. The New York Times, which uses A.D.A.M.’s content on its health Web page, updated its site. At the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Roger W. Harms, the Web site’s medical editor in chief, said “we are chomping at the bit” to revise the entryif the Food and Drug Administration changes labels or other agencies make official pronouncements.
Despite more and more scientific studies in the past decade, abortion opponents have continued to resist changing the labels. For instance, Dr. Harrison told the New York Times that while the Plan B studies were “led by ‘a good researcher,’ … … she would prefer a study with more women and more documentation of when in their cycles they took Plan B.”
High Political Stakes Over How the Morning-After Pill Works
As the New York Times underscores, the stakes about the information on the morning-after pill’s label — on whether or not the “implantation idea” is specifically noted — are high. Controversies about contraceptions and about emergency contraception have become a factor in the debate about President Obama’s health care law and, indeed, about the presidential race.
A number of religious groups and abortion opponents are fighting the law on the grounds that it would require insurers to cover contraceptives for employees of Roman Catholic schools and other institutions which are officially opposed to birth control. Supporters of “personhood” initiatives who define fertilized eggs as people say that their proposals will ban the emergency contraceptives if they do prevent implantation.
The FDA and government agencies need to act quickly and efficiently to revise the labels of the morning-after pill to reflect the latest scientific evidence about the drugs not preventing implantation. Abortion foes are already criticizing scientists and government agencies for letting ideology seep into their decisions. The FDA and scientists need to take control of the conversation and make it clear to the public that emergency contraceptives delay ovulation and do not prevent implantation, not only for the sake of women’s health, but for the sake of science and scientific accuracy.
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