NEWS RELEASE                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  January 5, 2005               

Contacts:

  • Kelly Mangan, Chair, Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force, Ph. 850-445-4273 
  • Stephanie Seguin, Gainesville Women’s Liberation, Florida, Ph. 352-380-9934 
  • Erin Mahoney, Chair, Women's Liberation Birth-Control Project, Ph. 917-842-5306 
  • Alex Leader, Chair, Redstockings Allies and Veterans, New York City, Ph. 352-371-9886 

 

FEMINISTS TO COMMIT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AT FDA TO GET MORNING-AFTER PILL OVER THE COUNTER

 

WHAT: A press conference and Speakout, where women will break the law by handing out the Morning-After Pill (MAP) in defiance of the unnecessary prescription 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.              

 

Background:

  • See next page for women’s testimony at the December 2003 FDA hearings regarding their experiences trying to get and use the MAP.

 

  • The Morning-After Pill (MAP), also known as Emergency Contraception or by the brand name Plan BTM, is simply a high 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 24 hours after sex. 

 

  • The MAP works in exactly the same way as birth control pills to prevent pregnancy (preventing ovulation or preventing implantation of the fertilized egg) because the MAP is simply birth control pills.  The MAP is not RU-486, also known as the French abortion pill, which may be used during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy to cause an abortion.

 

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

 

  • Two thousand women around the country have signed the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy’s pledge promising to break the law by giving their prescription-only MAP to friends whenever they need it. 

 

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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