UPDATE 8/14, 12:17p: The American Associate of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has released additional helpful information important to understanding how ella works:

Here is what the FDA approved drug literature says: “How does ella work? ella is thought to work for emergency contraception primarily by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary. It is possible that ella may also work by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus. “…

Don’t miss this important fact: Ella only delays ovulation if taken in the day or so before ovulation happens. After ovulation, if the egg is fertilized, it works as a progesterone-blocking abortifacient….

The egg must be fertilized on the day of ovulation. And why does ella work for 5 days after ovulation? Because it is on about the 5th day after fertilization that the new baby begins to implant – but can’t, because the uterine lining is disabled by ella. That is abortifacient action.

The FDA literature hints at this… but does not use the “A” word. We find this very deceptive for the women considering using ella who would not otherwise even think of having an abortion.

8/13, 5:40p: It’s odd that the Bush administration’s FDA was accused of trumping political ideology over science by slowing approval of the emergency contraceptive Plan B.

Yet the Obama administration’s FDA is not being accused of the same for swift passage and misleading labeling of ella as an “emergency contraceptive,” when it is clearly so much more. As the Family Research Council wrote this afternoon (also see its fact sheet on ella):

The FDA opted against including the critical fact that Ella can cause an abortion on a baby already implanted in its mother’s womb in the drug labeling information. This decision flies in the face of the Obama Administration’s promise to transparency and a commitment to science. The difference between preventing and destroying life is enormous, and women have the right to know how this drug will act on their bodies and on their babies.

Actually, the spin is all too typical.

The Washington Post has a somewhat decent article on what happened today. But following is clearer information, from a DC source:

Today the FDA approved the application for a new abortion drug, ulipristal acetate, under the label ella.

Ella is the first selective progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM) available in the US for the indication of “emergency contraception.”  According to the European Medicines Agency, SPRMs block progesterone which is necessary to maintain a pregnancy. This effectively deprives the unborn child in the womb of the nutrients s/he needs to live.

Today’s approval labeling ella as emergency contraception is deceptive and dangerous to women and their unborn children. Women deserve to know that ella can cause an abortion and the FDA is deliberately misleading women by mislabeling ella as contraception and not an abortion drug.

Until today, the only SPRM approved in the US is the medical abortion drug, mifepristone (RU-486), which is approved for use to induce an abortion through Day 49 of pregnancy.

Prior to today’s decision, FDA approved “emergency contraception” available in the US (Plan B & Next Choice) prevents ovulation, fertilization and implantation. Many pro-life Americans oppose emergency contraception because it can kill an embryo by preventing implantation in the womb.  Ella also prevents ovulation, fertilization and implantation.  However, ella’s strong similarity to mifepristone indicates it could also cause an abortion after implantation days, weeks or months into pregnancy.

On August 2, Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) sent a letter signed by 90 Members of Congress to FDA Commissioner Hamburg regarding the application for this new abortion drug.

The letter raises concerns regarding the similar chemical makeup of ella to RU-486, the absence of research to demonstrate that the drug does not cause abortion, the failure to address the dangers of off-label use, and the lack of information about health risks for a woman or her unborn child.

Pro-life leaders are also concerned that approval of this new abortion drug could result in taxpayer subsidies for abortion. Approved as an emergency contraceptive, ella could be purchased using taxpayer funds through Medicaid, Title X, and international family planning programs.

In addition, it would be eligible for funds appropriated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and insurance companies could be forced to cover ella under its requirements. Pro-life groups are concerned this approval creates a loophole to existing prohibitions on abortion funding since ella can cause abortions when used off-label or when prescribed to women who are not yet aware that they are pregnant.

This could also pose significant conscience concerns as pharmacists would not be protected from being forced to dispense this new abortion drug.

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