Morning after

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(HOST) Commentator Madeline Kunin joins us today with some thoughts on the FDA and contraception.

(KUNIN) Most people on both sides of the polarized abortion de-
bate can find common ground on one strategy – lets reduce the rate of abortions and make it an increasingly rare option. Abortions have declined in the United States, and many people attribute this trend to greater access to birth control.

Now we have the Morning After pill, a contraceptive that could reduce the abortion rate dramatically, but its over the counter availability was nixed by the Food and Drug administration,
before scientific review of its application was finished, according
to an investigation by the General Accounting office. The decision whether to approve over the counter sales of the pill was unusual, made by so-called high level management, not by objective scientists.

The significance of this revelation goes far beyond the abortion debate itself. It reveals that the normal politics-proof FDA has been tampered with, seals broken, allowing a dangerous bias to corrupt the data. If this can happen on the morning after pill, where else will high level management, which may take its orders from the White House, strike next?

Why would the administration oppose a pill that will reduce the need for abortions?

The issue is not drug safety.The morning after pill was approved
by prescription in 1999.The issue is availability, a critical factor for this pill, because to be effective it must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

The debate hinges on the meaning of birth control itself.Those at the far end of the anti-abortion spectrum argue that contraception is equivalent to abortion. How else can we explain that the sale of potentially life-saving condoms in Africa is discouraged, and often opposed by the United States?

A recent FDA report concluded that condoms, properly used, do reduce unwanted pregnancies and disease, a fact long accepted in the medical community.

If contraception is not equated with abortion, how can we explain why the House of Representatives recently turned down an amendment that would have restored U.S. funding for the United Nations Population fund? The reason given is the belief that China uses these funds for coercive abortions and forced sterilizations.
In fact, the funds are used to promote voluntary family planning, desperately needed world-wide, to reduce population growth and
to curb the spread of HIV-AIDS.

It is time for both sides on the abortion debate to reach out to one another. Making contraception widely available is the critical first step.

The morning after pill, or Plan B, as it is called, would spare millions of women the difficult choice of whether or not to have an abortion, and would make it more possible for every child born, to be wanted.

This is Madeleine May Kunin.

Madeleine May Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.

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