Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Politics of Plan B

Wednesday, March 7th, I attended a lecture given by Dr. Susan Woods, formerly of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, focused of the politics and controversy concerning Plan B, otherwise known as the morning after pill.

She explained in great detail the circumstances surrounding the issues with approving Plan B, as well as the circumstances surrounding her subsequent resignation from the FDA. She said that never in a million years would she even ponder the though of resignation, especially over something as common as what is essentially high dosages of birth control.

She talked about all the different types of drugs that had been given and tested on pregnant women, and how these women were later removed from virtually all scientific trial studies due to the unknown negative effects the experimental drugs might have on the fetuses. These drugs include thalidomide, and DES (diethylstilbestrol) which was used to prevent miscarriage in women late in their pregnancies.

The issues surrounding Plan B in particular stretch as far back as the early 60's, when birth control first became available with a prescription during the self help gynecology movement that spread fast and vast across the country. Unknown to most, Plan B was simply a higher dosage of birth control medicine, comparable to taking 6, 8 or even 10 birth control pills at once. Although they were not designed to be used this way, doctors could prescribe a patient to take this many pills from her pack in order to prevent pregnancy from occurring. The largest misconception people have to date regarding this line of drugs is that once taken, it DOES NOT KILL A FETUS!!!!!! It simply prevents ovulation, making the fertilization of the egg impossible.

(By the way, the FDA's sole job is to approve products that are safe, effective, and correctly labeled, to make sure they are in compliance with numerous food and drug laws, and products within their grasp include things such as cosmetics, microwaves, and breast implants, to name a few.)

Once enough people knew about this little secret to the birth control pill, many were willing to use this as a last resort method of preventing pregnancy, the only down side to this method is, if not taking within the first few hours/day/days at the latest, it will not work.

Make a long story short, there was way too much controversy about what age groups this drug should be available to and the prescription/over the counter status, and it was in limbo for way to long. What is puzzling to me is why the FDA was so reluctant to approve it, when so many people are on the pill to date, who can follow the “unsafe” method of the morning after pill if they know about it.

The lecture itself was very informative and interesting, and provided me with great argumentative material. Granted I have no knowledge prior to this about birth control and Plan B, other than my own personal experiences, but thats ok

1 comment:

Jessie said...

This post is really well done Jess-

The analytical discussion that you mentioned that you're trying to develop (in a more recent post) will be much easier to develop if more of your posts reflect the language, writing style, and overall tone of this post. You'll really see your blog's analytical level increase and clearly you have the ability to make it this post could serve as your model...hint hint (and proofread it before you hit publish!!!). Try (if you haven't done so already) writing your post in Word or whatever word processing software you use, then copying and pasting your blog post from word to the blog. It won't be a substitute for proofreading; however, it will catch spelling errors and may help you out if you're more comfortable writing in a particular software's environment.

On a more topic-related subject... it's awesome that posts about issues such as Dr. Wood's talk for Women's History Month at TCNJ, can be potential educational resources for people who may have come to your blog for reasons-of-Britney. They may just learn something new and unexpected while visiting your blog.