NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 5, 2005
FEMINISTS TO COMMIT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AT FDA TO GET MORNING-AFTER PILL OVER THE COUNTER
press conference and Speakout, where women will break the law by
the Morning-After Pill (MAP) in defiance of the unnecessary
requirement on the Morning-After Pill (MAP).
PARTICIPANTS: The Morning-After Pill Conspiracy, a national coalition of feminist organizations who support this event, including the Women's Liberation Birth-Control Project (formerly New York NOW 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; the state organizations of Florida NOW and California NOW; and the U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office.
WHERE: The Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane Rockville, Maryland. Sidewalk in front of the main entrance. Within walking distance of Twinbrook Metro Station.
WHEN: Friday, January 7th, 12 noon
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slated to make a decision on over-the-counter (OTC) status for the Morning-After Pill (brand name Plan BTM) by January 22, 2005. On Friday, January 7th, women will converge on the steps of the FDA to demand OTC status and protest the year-long delay in the approval process. We will register our protest by handing out the Morning-After Pill (MAP) to any woman who wants it, in defiance of the FDA’s medically unnecessary prescription requirement. We will be joined by Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women. Women will speak out to the FDA and the public from our own experiences about using the MAP or not being able to get it in time, due to the expense and long delays caused by the prescription requirement.
We are not alone in demanding over-the-counter status (OTC) for the Morning-After Pill. On Dec. 16, 2003, two FDA advisory committees voted overwhelmingly (23-4) to recommend that the FDA eliminate the prescription requirement and grant OTC status to the MAP. More than 70 health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say it is safe for over-the-counter distribution. More than 60 U.S. newspapers have taken an editorial position in support of over-the-counter access.
In more than 38 countries, women can walk into a store and get the MAP without a prescription—yet women in this country have to jump through hoops to get it.
Due to White House pressure, the FDA has dragged its feet in making this decision since February 2004. In May 2004, FDA representative Steven K. Galson announced the FDA would delay its decision yet again, claiming there were not enough studies to prove the drug is safe for girls under 16 years old. Barr Laboratories, the makers of Plan BTM, was forced to submit a supplemental application to the FDA, requesting OTC status for women 16 and older, while the prescription requirement would remain in effect for girls younger than 16. Not only have studies
shown an age restriction to be medically unnecessary, but all females would be impacted by this decision—all women will be required to produce an I.D. to prove our age. (See today’s issue of
Journal of American Medical Association, Jan. 5, 2005, for an additional, new study citing no health risks to girls under 16 who have access to the MAP; cite USA Today, 1/5/05, p. 6D.) Rather than the MAP being on the drugstore shelf next to shampoo, an age restriction would render it “behind the counter,” a restrictive status only in effect in the United States for smoking-cessation drugs.
In support of today’s Speakout, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said, "Last summer, American women watched in horror as the FDA let politics trump science, going against the judgment of their own panel and deciding that emergency contraception should not be made over-the-counter. Members of Congress heard from scientists across the country, urging them to only accept scientific, evidence-based decisions that are in the best interest of the American public and that will help improve our health. As we wait for the FDA's upcoming decision, it is my hope that ideology will no longer be allowed to impact the health and well-being of thousands of American women."
“George Bush may be president for four more years, but we will not wait four years for advances for women,” said Erin Mahoney, Chair, Women's Liberation Birth-Control Project. “Democrat or Republican--if you do not do what is best for women, you will see us in the streets.”
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