Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 26, 2004
Abortive potential of morning after pill 'glossed over' - - COLF
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) says the media and the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPA) have "glossed over" the abortive potential of the so-called morning after pill.
The federal government announced in May that it plans to make the morning after pill available without a prescription across Canada. Currently, the pill is only available without prescription in British Columbia, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
The CPA applauded the announcement, calling it "a long overdue move and shows that the government recognizes the health and social benefits associated with preventing unintended pregnancies."
In a letter to the CPA released by the COLF July 7, Bishop Pierre Morissette, the chair of the organization, took issue with the CPA's statement that the pill has the potential to "reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy and the number of abortions performed."
Morissette wrote, "By contrast, the information from Heath Canada indicates that the pill either inhibits conception by preventing ovulation or inhibits implantation if conception has already taken place."
He also quoted from a statement made last year by the Therapeutic Products Directorate of the federal government's health department. "Hormonal emergency contraceptives act primarily by inhibiting ovulation, and/or altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova (thereby inhibiting fertilization), and/or altering the endometrium (thereby inhibiting implantation)," it said.
Morissette added that genetic science "demonstrates clearly that human life begins at conception not implantation." It is not possible to say in a particular case whether the pill prevents conception or implantation, he wrote.
The Catholic organization wants the CPA to provide assurances that its members will inform women of the potential of the morning after pill to act as an abortifacient.
As well, the COLF, sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus, said it is concerned about "the apparent lack of a monitoring system for frequent use" of the pill.
The organization is also worried about a statement made by the Therapeutic Products Directorate last June in which it said, "There is unlikely to be an increased risk of heart attack and stroke (associated with progestin use) with the short duration use of levonorgestrol for emergency contraception."
The COLF's letter, wants to know where the CPA stands on "respecting the freedom of conscience and religion of pharmacists" who do not want to distribute the pill, labelled as levonorgestrel.