Posted by: bridget | 21 January 2007

More Abortion/Birth Control Legislation

Virginia adds to the flurry of abortion-related legislation by seeking to define birth control in a way that is consistent with FDA regulation and distinct from abortion laws. On its face, the bill is a very reasonable measure: it would ensure that condoms are not forbidden if Roe is overturned and Virginia’s trigger legislation enacted. The bill, however, would require that contraception not be covered under informed consent and parental consent laws. It does not make any sense to have a separate rule for the morning-after pill and for Claritin, whereby children could get the first without parental consent but could not get the second. Yet, parents play an important role in birth control: Plan B can have serious side effects, teenagers who become pregnant will often become pregnant again, unless properly educated about birth control, and teenagers who become pregnant are often in relationships with older men. Side effects of the Pill (for example, blood clots) make it important to have a thorough medical history and assess all risk factors. Many IUDs act as aborficants: they allow an egg to be fertilised; the fertilised egg either does not implant, or implants and is expelled early in the pregnancy. Side effects range from moderate to severe cramping and heavier periods to infections and sterility. Women need more, not less, information and caution when choosing such an option.

Rep. Admunson, who sponsored the bill, commented that the citizen legislature should defer to the FDA on such matters. While she is technically correct in that the Virginia House of Delegates lacks the scientific acumen of the FDA, she misses a few key points. The FDA classifies drugs and devices differently, depending on use and possible side effects. Basic medical devices, like Band-Aids, are a Class I device that needs little approval. Pacemakers require a much more rigourous approval process for safety and efficacy. Likewise, aspirin is regulated in a different manner than AIDS drugs. If the House of Delegates were truly deferring to FDA expertise, it would require different restrictions for various drugs and devices, especially where children are concerned.


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