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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Health

Molly Henneberg

Washington, DC

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Ella – Contraception or Abortion Pill?

June 15, 2010 - 5:18 PM | by: Molly Henneberg

An FDA advisory board will meet on Thursday to discuss if and how Ella should be available in the US.

Ella, made by a French pharmaceutical company and already approved in Europe, blocks the hormone progesterone from telling a woman’s body to grow and release an egg.  No egg, no fertilization, no conception is how it is supposed to work. 

But Pro-life groups say Ella also may prevent progesterone from growing the lining in the uterus that nourishes an embryo.  So if you take it, and you don’t know that you are already pregnant, critics say it could end the pregnancy.

Wendy Wright, with Concerned Women for America, who will testify against Ella at the FDA’s Thursday advisory board meeting, says, “Women will buy it thinking it’s a morning-after pill when in fact, it is an abortion pill.”

Pro-Choice groups disagree.  They say Ella prevents conception and is another option for women to prevent pregnancy safety and effectively.  Plus they point out that Ella prevents conception for 5 days after unprotected sex, instead of 3 days, which is what already-available emergency contraception does.

“What we know from years of contraceptive research,” says Amy Allina, program director for the National Women’s Health Network,  “is that there is no one contraceptive that meets the needs of every woman in every life circumstance.  So having one that opens up these extra 2 day is a great addition.”

Planned Parenthood says Ella should not have any effect on a pregnancy already underway, but Wright says not enough testing has been done.

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