MAPconspiracy Press Release May 7, 2004
WOMEN OUTRAGED BY ANTI-BIRTH CONTROL DECISION,
PLEDGE TO BREAK LAW ON FDA’S DOORSTEP
Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration ruled against women, against the advice of the medical community, and against the opinion of its own advisory committees by refusing over-the-counter access to the Morning-After Pill. With this decision, the United States has proven itself to be more backwards on women’s rights and birth control than 38 other countries that do not require a prescription. Acting FDA Commissioner, Lester Crawford is carrying out the anti-birth control line of President Bush and other conservatives in our legislature.
For the past 10 months, a coalition of feminist groups called the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy has been campaigning for over-the-counter access to this safe, effective form of birth control. Since February we have conducted civil disobedience in New York and Florida and Washington DC by giving out the Morning-After Pill in front of the public and press. On April 25, we defied the prescription requirement again by passing out the Morning-After Pill at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C. Approximately 1,500 women all over the country have signed our pledge promising to break the law by giving their prescription-only Morning-After Pills to friends whenever they need it.
Alex Leader, Chair of Redstockings Allies and Veterans, said, “It is outrageous and sexist that the FDA has rejected over-the-counter access to the MAP. When I needed the Morning-After Pill, I could not get to the doctor in time to get a prescription. I got pregnant and had an abortion. There were many more side effects of being pregnant than there are with the Morning-After Pill.”
The FDA ruled against over-the-counter access for the Morning-After Pill because it claims there are not enough studies to prove that the drug is safe for women 16 and under. Elizabeth Morrow, member of the Women's Liberation Birth-Control Project (formerly the NOW New York State Reproductive Rights Task Force) said, “When I was 16 in rural New Hampshire, my friend and I had to call countless hospitals on the weekend, drive to a hospital over 2 hours away in the middle of the night and beg a doctor to prescribe it. We shouldn’t have to go through that to control our lives.” They are saying its about girls but it is really a way to keep it from all women. Today, with this decision, none of us have the Morning-After Pill over-the-counter. Women are incensed that the FDA is denying us birth control under the guise of concern for our well-being. Women are not careless, irresponsible or stupid— we are capable of deciding that we don’t want to be pregnant without a doctor’s approval.
Some of the FDA’s own medical experts have called the Morning-After Pill the safest drug to come before the advisory committees. And as one of these experts pointed out, young women are not a separate species in need of separate study. This is merely a convenient excuse for the FDA’s sexist decision to deny all women access to a safe, effective form of birth control.
We will hand-deliver our pledge signatures to the FDA from more than a thousand women who plan to blatantly disregard the prescription requirement for the Morning-After Pill. In the tradition of women like Margaret Sanger, who broke the law by passing out information on birth control when it was illegal to do so, the members of the MAP Conspiracy pledge to bring our civil disobedience directly to the FDA— to illegally pass out the Morning-After Pill on their doorstep— in protest of this unjust ruling.
The Morning-After Pill is one tool that women can use to control our bodies and direct our lives, a tool which the FDA continues to keep from millions of women who can’t afford, don’t have time, or aren’t able to get MAP from their doctors. Women of all ages should have unrestricted, over-the-counter access to the Morning-After Pill; we will continue to fight for this right by whatever means necessary.