Canada Moving Ahead With Over-the-Counter Morning-After Pill

Bishops Warned It Can Cause Early Abortions

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OTTAWA, MAY 19, 2004 ( The Canadian government said it plans to make a morning-after pill widely available over the counter as an «emergency contraceptive.»

The statement comes just two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that a pharmaceutical company could not sell a levonorgestrel-only pill without a prescription because of concerns over young girls’ use of the drug without a doctor’s supervision.

Canada’s decision won’t become law for several months, as the health department reviews the issue and gathers input from interested parties.

Deacon William Kokesch, a spokesman for the Canadian bishops’ conference, said that the Ministry of Health has acknowledged the Catholic prelates’ apprehensions about the drug.

«We released a statement last November, outlining our concerns about the morning-after pill,» he said. «I received confirmation from the Ministry of Health today that it will consider our recommendation that a consultation should be given to those who are considering buying the pill without a prescription.»

In a letter to the minister of health last November, Bishop Pierre Morissette, chairman of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family of the bishops’ conference and Knights of Columbus, wrote: «Given that the morning-after pill may act as an abortifacient, and because it may pose physical risks to women without in any way addressing the emotional and psychological distress they may be experiencing, we ask you to reconsider the proposal to make the morning-after pill available ‘over the counter.'»

«The information provided by Health Canada indicates that the pill either inhibits conception by preventing ovulation or inhibits implantation, if conception has already occurred,» the bishop said. «Pregnancy begins with conception not implantation. It is thus inaccurate to refer to this pill as emergency contraception, given its potential to act as an abortifacient.»

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