Morning-After Pill Conspiracy       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—March 22, 2005

- Annie Tummino, Lead Plaintiff of Tummino v. Crawford, cell 917-842-5306
- Kelly Mangan, Chair, Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force, cell 850-445-4273
- Stephanie Seguin, Gainesville (Fla.) Women's Liberation, cell 352-281-7454
- Erin Mahoney, Chair, New York Reproductive Rights Task Force, cell 917-842-5306


FEMINISTS DECLARE LESTER CRAWFORD UNFIT FOR FDA COMMISSIONER POST,  SUE FDA OVER MORNING-AFTER PILL


WHAT: Feminists suing the FDA oppose nominee at press conference in front of

Hyattsville District Court (4990 Rhode Island Ave. Hyattsville, MD)


WHEN: Wednesday, March 23, 5:00pm


PARTICIPANTS: Individual plaintiffs in Tummino v. Crawford representing the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy, a national coalition of feminist organizations which include the New York Reproductive Rights Task Force; Redstockings Allies and Veterans, NYC; Gainesville Area (FL) National Organization for Women (NOW); Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force; Gainesville (FL) Women’s Liberation; University of Florida Campus NOW


Feminists who are suing FDA commissioner-nominee Lester Crawford say he is unfit to serve as Commissioner of the FDA as long as he continues to block women’s access to the Morning-After Pill, a needed emergency contraceptive.

In a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on Jan. 21, the plaintiffs allege that the FDA has failed to follow its own procedures and statutory and regulatory mandates. According to the FDA’s own advisory committees, the Morning-After Pill meets all the criteria for an over-the-counter drug.  But Crawford, as acting FDA commissioner, has blocked approval.  A decision to reject Plan B (TM) for over-the-counter sales discriminates against women, the
suit charges.

Reacting to Crawford’s confirmation hearings, lead plaintiff Annie Tummino said "Crawford and the FDA have violated the rights of American women by withholding access to this safe, effective form of birth control.  His nomination is an insult to the women of the U.S."

Stephanie Seguin, of Gainesville (Fla.) Women’s Liberation, also a plaintiff, says that the prescription requirement makes the pill impossible to use, “When I needed the pill I had to fight heavy football game traffic to get to my school’s infirmary which turned out to be closed.  I gave up trying to get the pill because I didn’t know where else to go.”

Erin Mahoney, Chair of the New York Reproductive Rights Task Force said Crawford is unfit to be FDA Commissioner because he has allowed politics to trump science. "Lester Crawford has ignored the FDA’s own medical experts, more than 70 major health organizations, and the women who need easier access to the Morning-After Pill," she said.  "This is sexist.  We call on the women of the U.S. to urge rejection of Lester Crawford for FDA head until such time as he
stops blocking our access to needed contraceptives."

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Background:


According to the New York Times, Senate Democrats questioned Dr. Lester M. Crawford, President Bush's choice to lead the Food and Drug Administration, about why the agency had so far refused to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill Plan B.

''What has disturbed many of us is what appears is political interference in a scientific process,'' said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York. ''We rely on the F.D.A. for everything we take, and I am hopeful that we will reverse what appears to be a dangerous slide into political opinion as opposed to scientific evidence.'' (Gardiner Harris, New York Times, 3/18/05)

 

The Morning-After Pill (MAP), or "emergency contraception," is simply a higher dose of regular birth control pills. It prevents pregnancy when taken up to 5 days after sex, but it is most effective when taken within the first 24 hours. (It is not the same as RU-486, the abortion pill.) 

Plan B (TM) is manufactured by Barr Laboratories, which applied for over-the-counter status.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a UCSF study on Jan. 5 showing that increased access to the Morning-After Pill doesn’t cause women to engage in more risky sex.

The FDA has been quick to get drugs on the market like Vioxx (TM), which scientists objected to, but when it comes to drugs that benefit women, political pressure trumps medical science. 

The Morning After Pill is available without a prescription in 38 other countries.

The FDA’s own advisory panels voted in December 2003 that the drug is safe and voted 23-4 to approve it for over the counter use in the U.S.

More than 2,000 women around the country have signed the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy’s pledge promising to break the law (and the prescription requirement) by giving their MAP to friends whenever they need it. 


Who is the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy?  The MAP Conspiracy is a coalition of feminist organizations leading the grassroots movement to make the Morning-After Pill an over-the-counter drug. The name is a reference to the fact that women have to conspire to break the law just to get the Morning-After Pill. The FDA’s prescription requirement forces us to rely on friends who may have it because we cannot get MAP when the need arises. We started passing out the pills publicly in defiance of the prescription requirement on Feb. 15, 2004. Our campaign seeks to highlight the injustice of the prescription requirement, and we use speak-outs where women speak from their own experience, to show that women are the real experts on why women need unrestricted access to the Morning-After Pill. We have held speak-outs and handed out MAP in New York City; Washington D.C; Rockville, Maryland; and Gainesville, Fla. More than 2,000 women around the country have signed the pledge to "Give a friend the Morning-After Pill," defying the prescription requirement. The pledge is available online at
www.mapconspiracy.org.

 

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