FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—April 7, 2005
Morning-After Pill Conspiracy      


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, Women's Liberation Birth-Control Project, cell 917-842-5306


Lead Plaintiffs in Lawsuit Against FDA Support Senators' Decision to Hold Crawford's Confirmation as FDA Head

Statement of Annie Tummino, lead plaintiff of Tummino v. Crawford
We oppose the confirmation of Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Lester Crawford, who is blocking women’s access to the Morning-After Pill – a safe, effective form of birth control. Crawford is unfit for this post. We are suing Crawford because he has applied a sexist double-standard to the Morning-After Pill and disregarded his own agency’s medical experts. The full text of the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Annie Tummino and eight other women from the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy (including all contacts listed above) can be found at www.reproductiverights.org/press.html.

 

We support senator Clinton and Senator Murray’s hold on Crawford’s confirmation and we call on the Senate to reject his appointment until he stops holding women’s health hostage. 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.

 

We also reject any attempt to give the Morning-After Pill behind-the-counter status in order to impose a medically unnecessary age restriction. Behind-the-counter status still creates obstacles to women’s access by forcing us to find a pharmacy that stocks it and a pharmacist that is willing to dispense it to us. We refuse to be carded for birth control or allow ourselves to be separated off from young women. If you are old enough to get pregnant, you are old enough to decide not to get pregnant.

 

More than 70 medical organizations- including the American Medical Association & the New England Journal of Medicine- support over-the-counter access to the Morning-After Pill. The FDA’s own medical advisory committees voted 23-4 that the Morning-After Pill should go over-the-counter, and voted unanimously that it is safe for over-the-counter sales. In 38 other countries, this drug is available without a doctor’s prescriptions, but in the U.S. women have to jump through hoops to get it.

 

I needed the Morning-After pill after I went away for a long weekend and got a couple of days behind on my daily birth control pills. I had sex with my boyfriend after I got back and realized I was in trouble. I needed the Morning-After Pill as back-up and I didn’t have it at my fingertips. First I called my doctor’s office – it’s a small office with irregular hours, and it was closed when I called. I went online and found a list of NYC clinics, but I began to panic. I help my boss run a small business and she was out of the office that day. We are the only two employees, and one of us has to be there. There was no way I could skip work and wait in a clinic for hours to be seen. I thought about asking my friends who might have an extra package of Plan B in their medicine cabinet or a prescription with refills left. Even then, I would have to wait until the end of the day to do anything about it. The clock was ticking. Thankfully, I found a NYC hotline where you talk to a doctor over the phone and they will call in a prescription to a pharmacy for you without actually seeing you in person. I took Plan B, the emergency contraceptive that is being considered for over-the-counter status, and had no side effects at all.

 

Because the Morning-After Pill is most effective at preventing pregnancy within 24 hours after sex, it’s vital that women have immediate, over-the-counter access to it. Women know when we don’t want to get pregnant- we shouldn’t need a doctor’s permission to control our lives.

 

In January, nine women from the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy were arrested for sitting in at the FDA and demanding the Morning-After Pill go over-the-counter for all women. We have defied the prescription requirement by illegally distributing the Morning-After Pill and more than 2,300 women from across the country have pledges to do the same. (For more info go to www.mapconspiracy.org). We pledge further acts of civil disobedience if Lester Crawford continues to hold hostage women’s access to birth control.

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.

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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