Medication mistake

I am writing in response to Adam Brenneman’s Forum piece on the benefits of the recently approved abortion pill, RU-486, also known as mifepristone (New pill increases options for women, Oct. 5). While I whole-heartedly agree with his opinions on the benefits of mifepristone, I must correct the glaring error that appeared in his opening sentence. He stated that RU-486 is the same as the morning-after pill. This is incorrect.

The morning-after pill, also known as emergency contraception, is a higher dosage of birth control pills given to a woman up to 72 hours after she has had unprotected sex. Emergency contraception can have three consequences. It can prevent ovulation, prevent an egg from being fertilized or prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. The effect that emergency contraception has depends on when the pill is taken; the sooner the pill is taken, the more likely the desired outcome for the patient.

The one effect that emergency contraception does not have is that of an abortion. If a woman is already pregnant, the morning-after pill cannot end her pregnancy and does not cause damage to the fetus. In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved Preven, a drug used solely as emergency contraception. This important drug is available to many women including the women of GW through Student Health Services.

I don’t want to lessen the importance of Mr. Brenneman’s argument because I too am in favor of the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. However, the distinction between emergency contraception and RU-486 must be made clear. It is through awareness and education that women can make the most informed decisions possible about their reproductive health.-Laura D. Marsh

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