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The Food and Drug Administration's August approval of Plan B for over-the-counter sales has not quieted pro-life and evangelical opposition. The Family Research Council and 46 other conservative Christian groups called on President George W. Bush in September to rescind his nomination of Andrew von Eschenbach to head the FDA. They criticized von Eschenbach, who has served as the FDA acting commissioner for a year, for "ignoring any concern for women's health in exchange for political expediency."

Plan B, also known as the "morning-after pill," contains a megadose of progestin, the same drug used in the traditional birth-control pill, which requires a physician's prescription. Some have likened Plan B to the pill in terms of encouraging promiscuity. But the outcry has focused on the possibility of abortion with Plan B, along with concerns about misuse and abuse.

"The purposes behind [the pill and Plan B] are very different, and the intent of the person taking it is very different," said Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow of Concerned Women for America's think tank, the Beverly LaHaye Institute. "It's one thing to time your pregnancy, and it's another to get rid of a pregnancy" that might already be there.

Barr Pharmaceuticals has declined to call the drug an abortifacient, stating that it does not interfere with an "established pregnancy."

"The way they get around this is by redefining 'abortion' and 'pregnancy,'" said Gene Rudd, an obstetrician and associate executive director of the Christian Medical Association. "We know that half of the women out there believe life begins at fertilization. … No one denies that there is or can be a post-fertilization effect with this drug, but no one calls that abortion. It's imperative ...

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In the Magazine

November 2006

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