FDA Approves More Effective Emergency Contraceptive

On Friday, the FDA approved “ella,” a controversial new form of emergency contraception that can prevent pregnancy as late as five days after unprotected sex.  The drug will provide an important new option for women who are concerned about unplanned pregnancy, although opponents have already begun protesting, claiming that it causes abortion.  Ella protects against pregnancy for significantly longer than the alternative, Plan B, which loses some of its effectiveness immediately and becomes ineffective after 72 hours.  Ella, by contrast, reduces the chances of pregnancy after unprotected sex by about two-thirds for at least 120 hours – that’s five days as opposed to three.  Big difference, right?

Although Plan B is available over the counter to women over the age of 18 (an absurd age limit insisted upon by anti-choice advocates who claimed that the pill could cause abortion), ella will be accessible only by prescription.  They can, however, keep a supply at home.  My question is how much the drug will cost – Plan B, at $40, is quite expensive.  Combined with the need for a prescription, this may make the drug much more inaccessible.

However, the most obvious controversy has nothing to do with the price or accessibility – in fact, opponents don’t want the drug to be available at all, saying that because it is chemically similar to RU-486, the pill used to end an early pregnancy.  It’s impossible to know if ella works this way, though, because it has never been tested to see if it causes abortion.

As the Washington Post points out, this controversy is likely to extend over a long period of time, and raise more questions about “whether doctors have an obligation to write prescriptions for medication they oppose on moral grounds and whether pharmacists have and obligation to fill them.”  The drug is scheduled to go on sale at the end of the year.

If it’s affordable (and even, to a certain extent, if it’s not), ella will provide a crucial alternative to Plan B.  More kinds of contraception are always good, especially since this one seems to be significantly more effective than the alternative.

Photo from Flickr.


Emily M.
Emily M.6 years ago

Ella is highly effective and I think it is fantastic that women know have another choice. Having the extra 2 days to decide is especially helpful for women who are victims of sexual abuse and may not be ready to come forward immediately the next day. Ella doesn't lose effectiveness throughout those 5 days which is a huge breakthrough for emergency contraception.


Sylvia B.
Sylvia B7 years ago

We have too many idiots over-populating the planet as it is, and I am tired of my tax dollars going to their care, whether it is in the form of welfare benefits, or putting these people in mental wards or prison. I prefer this pill option over having a nearly fully developed fetus being aborted, so make it available. Enough of the right-to-be-barefoot-and-pregnant nonsense already.

pam w.
pam w7 years ago

Calling it an "abortion" when there is NO way to know if the egg has been fertilized, etc, is just hysterical ranting by the anti-choice people.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W7 years ago

Many, many times a fertilized egg doesn't adhere to the wall of the uterus! The woman's ute might be too acid or alkaline that day, she might have been fending off an infection. There are many natural reasons that these eggs don't adhere and are flushed from the body as other fluids are. We're only talking about very few cells here. No one would refer to that as a miscarriage. So this is no closer to an abortion than that would be to a miscarriage. Otherwise, HECK, you could say that drinking tomato juice would be a proctive abortion!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L7 years ago

First of all, the above article is confusing. In one breath she writes, On Friday, the FDA approved "ella," a controversial new form of emergency contraception that can prevent pregnancy as late as five days after unprotected sex. Then near the end of the article in relating it to RU-486 she writes, " It's impossible to know if ella works this way, though, because it has never been tested to see if it causes abortion." It either does or doesn't.

One other thing concerns me, is that Ms. Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux writes, "an absurd age limit insisted upon by anti-choice advocates who claimed that the pill could cause abortion", relating to the minimum age of 18 years.

First, is this pill save to take EVERYTIME you have unprotected sex? If you have unprotected sex once you will probably do this again. If you are taking this pill after you have had sex and the seed has been planted and fertilized, than is it not abortion, just an early one? It works up to five days, let not play with words any more. Let's me honest.

And I, as a parent, don't want this pill sold over the counter to young girls under 18 years of age. I would want by daughters, who thankfully are grown women now, to come to me and let me help them through a situation like unprotected sex, consenual or not. Look for goodness sake, you have to be 18 to buy cigerettes and 21 to buy beer, wine or the hard stuff.

I just want us to be honest, responsible and accountable. It's called being ethical.

Mariana V.
Mariana V7 years ago

i think it should be available and again like abortion it must be the women choice to use it or not.
because, yes it may cause abortion (again, it's the women choice) but imagine your a rate victim! come on just go on with that.

Jnanabrata S.
Dr. J. Sil7 years ago

It should be made available to all the rape victims only but not to those who indulge in sex at their own consent and their sweet will. Abortion is also a homicide. We do not have the right to kill any one and that should be the logical moral position with the unborn life as well. Baby in the womb cannot defend itself and that cannot empower us to kill it.

Cathy C.
Cathy C7 years ago

Wait a minute. A doctor's and a pharmacist's MORALS should come into play here? ABSOLUTELY NOT! They need to leave their morals at home. Their job REQUIRES them to serve the public and a woman in this situation is part of the public. I would certainly hope that a doctor's morals don't come to the office and the pharmacists need to get over themselves. Their job is to fill prescriptions not to proseletize to their customers. If they don't like doing this then get another profession. End of discussion.
This option should be avaiable to any woman in this situation. The anti choice people just cannot stand it that women have more and more power over their own bodies. And, it can be done privately. They cannot block the doors to her own home nor stop her at any part of the process, so they start screaming COUNSELING as some means to put up a barrier to this woman getting help. Counseling by whom, exactly? An anti choice activist? That is just bull malarky. Like a woman has no mind of her own. The insistence on counseling is just an insult. Shame on you.

Jose Ramon F.

I agree with Christine S. that this should be made widely available, but ideally should be combined with some sort of counseling to prevent recurrences. Where I live (not the US), there are condom machines in the men's bathrooms of a lot of cafes. I've even seen them in some European airports. Something needs to be made available to women as well.


I am a Christian and personally, I think the availability of drugs, such as these, are Heaven sent! I mean, how could it be a loving God's will for, say, some young rape victim to have that baby? we all know that some rapes are not reported imediatelyl, as the victim is often in shock. As for dumb kids who drink and have unprotected sex and then find they are pregnant, don't you think it would be so much better NOT to have a baby at that time when the baby is just an awful mistake and most likely will not be the loved little person it could be, if the pregnancy happened at a later date? the young person can then wait to become a bit more mature and THEN have a wanted and loved baby.There are so many different scenarios that you could think of that would be devastating to the mother if she had a baby at that time. I mean, I can understand people getting uncomfortable about terminating a pregnancy once the baby actually has little hands and feet and looks like a baby, but, when it is just a few cells? I think that in this day and age, we have to be more enlightened and realistic. Oh! there are just so many variables! I DO agree, though that for young people it might be a wonderful idea to make provision for counseling, to prevent further unwanted pregnancies. Of course it should be affordable for all people, or only rich people could benefit! I bet if it were the MEN who had the babies, there wouldn't be a problem with that! They would probably be in a machine in public loos!