Dr. Wood’s LTE in the Washington PostDigg This!
In his May 25 Washington Forum column, Catholic Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl repeated the false claim that the requirement for insurance coverage of contraception under the Affordable Care Act mandates coverage of “abortion-inducing drugs.” Presumably, those who say this refer to emergency contraception (Plan B and Ella). It is time for the media and editors to stop treating this as a “he said-she said” situation.
Such a statement ignores the science of how emergency contraception works. This can be understandable since the label on emergency contraceptive pills is confusing to begin with and hasn’t changed since 1999. But recent, rigorous studies have found strong evidence that emergency contraception works by delaying ovulation. It may prevent fertilization, but it does not block implantation of a fertilized egg — and this is true for even the newest emergency contraceptive product, Ella.
Even if future studies show that some methods have a post-fertilization effect, so long as it works before pregnancy is established (implantation of a fertilized egg), it is a contraceptive. For a pregnant woman seeking an abortion, there is an FDA-approved option: the abortion pill, also called RU-486. But all of the contraceptive products covered under this health reform policy will not end a pregnancy. Accurate information is necessary if we must debate women’s access to contraception.
Susan F. Wood, Washington
The writer was assistant commissioner for women’s health at the Food and Drug Administration from 2000 to 2005.