AMA backs over-counter ‘morning-after’ pill

By MIKE BRANOM

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. – The American Medical Association approved a resolution today asking the government to consider making the “morning-after” contraceptive available over the counter.

The AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates passed the recommendation without discussion during a convention in Orlando.

“This is a wonderful decision by the AMA. This is a terrific resolution,” said Joan Coombs, senior vice president of Planned Parenthood.

Coombs estimated that widespread use of the morning-after pill could prevent annually 1.7 million unplanned pregnancies and 800,000 abortions.

The Vatican recently condemned the emergency contraceptive and the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, decided last year not to sell it in any of its 2,400 pharmacies.

Coombs said that if the FDA moves to make the drug over-the-counter, “it will make it (the morning after pill) more acceptable and consumers well demand it. Acceptance will be market-driven,” she said.

Taken within three days of sexual intercourse, the morning after pill prevents ovulation or, if it’s already occurred, blocks implantation of a fertilized egg. A report by the AMA’s Council on Medical Service suggests that women might not be able to get the pills in time to prevent a pregnancy unless they’re made available over-the-counter.

An AMA committee debated the issue on Sunday and sent its recommendation to the full House of Delegates.

Some of those who testified Sunday said selling the pills over-the-counter would lead to lost opportunities to counsel patients on sexually transmitted diseases.

Though morning-after pills are not as widely opposed as the RU-486 prescription abortion pill approved by the FDA in September, foes consider them a form of abortion since an egg could have been fertilized by the time a woman takes them.

Planned Parenthood does not consider the method abortion since it does not work if a fertilized egg has already implanted itself in the uterus, the scientific definition of pregnancy.

The National Right to Life Committee statement said the group opposes destroying a fertilized egg but has no position on methods to prevent fertilization.

There are two morning-after pills on the market: Preven and Plan B. They were approved for U.S. use within the past two years.

Morning-after pills can cause side effects, most commonly nausea and vomiting. Headaches, breast tenderness and changes in menstrual periods also have been reported, but the AMA report suggests serious side effects are rare.

The pills are “considered safe and effective by the medical community as a whole,” the report said. It also stated that efforts are needed to improve awareness about their availability.

The issue of selling the morning-after pill over-the-counter was first brought before the AMA last year.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Ryan Stalkfleet, left to right, and Kenny Hauge, members of the OceanGate submersible crew, explains the vehicles features and operations to Bill McFerren and Kiely McFerren Thursday afternoon at the Port of Everett on December 16, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett sub disaster forces global rethinking of deep sea exploration

A year after the OceanGate disaster, an industry wrestles with new challenges for piloted submersibles and robotic explorers.

People board the Mukilteo ferry in Mukilteo, Washington on Monday, June 3, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Washington’s ferry system steers toward less choppy waters

Hiring increases and steps toward adding boats to the state’s fleet are positive developments for the troubled agency.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Dave Calhoun speaks during a 2017 interview in New York. (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg)
Lawmakers to confront Boeing CEO on mounting quality and safety issues

Before the Tuesday hearing, a congressional subcommittee accused Boeing of mismanaging parts and cutting quality inspections.

School board members listen to public comment during a Marysville School Board meeting on Monday, June 3, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. Rinehardt is seated third from left. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Marysville school board president resigns amid turmoil

Wade Rinehardt’s resignation, announced at Monday’s school board meeting, continues a string of tumultuous news in the district.

A BNSF train crosses Grove St/72nd St, NE in Marysville, Washington on March 17, 2022. Marysville recently got funding for design work for an overcrossing at the intersection. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
BNSF owes nearly $400M to Washington tribe, judge rules

A federal judge ruled last year that the railroad trespassed as it sent trains carrying crude oil through the Swinomish Reservation.

Everett Housing Authority is asking for city approval for its proposed development of 16 acres of land currently occupied by the vacant Baker Heights public housing development on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett inches closer to Park District affordable housing plan

Building heights — originally proposed at 15 stories tall — could be locked in with council approval in July.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.