The Food and Drug Administration's approval on Friday of the emergency contraceptive Ulipristal — also known under the brand name ella — drew swift disapproval from Americans United for Life.
The drug, already sold in Europe, can prevent pregnancies up to five days after sex. Anti-abortion groups argue the drug causes abortions.
"The FDA's irresponsible approval of ella (Ulipristal), without adequate safety studies, places women's health and lives at risk," said Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life. "Furthermore, billing this abortion-causing drug as an 'emergency contraceptive' is misleading to the public."
Americans United for Life is part of a coalition, ella Causes Abortions, that signed a letter to Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius urging the FDA not to approve the drug.
Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, applauded the news and called ella "safe and effective at preventing ovulation and therefore pregnancy."
"Every woman deserves every option available to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, and there are many reasons why a woman may face the risk of unintended pregnancy — from failure or improper use of birth control, to sexual assault," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The FDA’s approval of this new form of emergency contraception gives women one more option."
In approving Ulipristal, the FDA warned that "it is not intended for routine use as a contraceptive."
The drug ella will only be available by prescription.