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Friday, January 7, 2005

Another reason not to trust the mainstream media.

Two days ago: Saw the CNN report on it.
Yesterday: Read it in my local paper.
Today: Wrote this letter to the editors.
Dear Mssrs. Keegan and Winters,

There are several problems with your January 6 "Access to the morning after pill [MAP] doesn’t boost use" article.

This was an interview-based study. Researchers often point out possible flaws in such studies due to "recall bias," where a participant may not report completely honestly on their sexual behavior. This makes the results' viability questionable.

The Medscape article detailing the study said, "[N]o trial in the U.S. has so far addressed the impact of pharmacy and advance access on key reproductive…outcomes using key biologic markers instead of self-report." [emphasis: this author]

That’s true, but Finland and Scotland studies did, using existing medical records, not interviews, matching them to pregnancy outcomes and abortion rates. Abortion rates didn’t decline and in Scotland increased, despite increased use of over-the-counter MAPs by 25% in one year and by 300% over eight years, respectively. In Finland, 23% MORE girls UNDER 15 had abortions that year.

We women usually don’t report our weight or ages accurately; it’s likely we wouldn’t tell the whole truth about how many times we are careless enough to have unprotected sex.

Medscape also said, "Study limitations include crossover of treatment groups, loss of some participants to follow-up, relatively high EC use in the clinic access group, and lack of generalizability."

That’s a lot of limitations. Especially the second one: it’s important to know how many dropped out. If many did, the study becomes untenable and worthless. Drop-outs occur usually when participants don’t want to report truthfully for privacy or secrecy reasons.

Further, while your headline said "access to the MAP doesn’t boost use," the article clearly proved otherwise: 91 more women (13% more) used MAP/EC if given it in advance than those told to get it at the drugstore. 112 more (16% more) used it at home than those getting it from a clinic.

If there’s a definition of "boosting use", that would be it.

Medscape also reports that "The Compton Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Walter [sic] Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation supported this study [financially]. The Women's Capital Corporation [WCC], distributor of Plan B, donated EC for use in the trial."

"Plan B" is the MAP/EC: two 0.75 mg pills of levonorgestrel, a birth control hormone since 1968.

What a surprise: WCC is partly owned by the largest seller of EC, Planned Parenthood, which sold 633,756 packs of it in FY2003 and makes about 93.5% of their money from providing abortions (this data from their annual report). And two of these foundations (Compton, Gerbode) financed Plan B’s development, while the other two donate millions to Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates:

"WCC is a privately held company…to develop and market Plan B…[WCC is] a public/private sector partnership…Financing…has come, in large part, from…the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and the Compton Foundation…Five Planned Parenthood affiliates also made equity investments in Plan B…"

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation gave International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and various PP chapters a total of $5.88 million between 1997 and 2000. [This information was originally gleaned from their website, but the page is no longer available, and from their 1999 and 2000 Annual Reports. Other info is found here, quoting a Magaly Llaguno article, "Who Funds the Pro-Abortion Movement in Latin America?", HLI Reports, May/June 2002.]

Open Society gave $31 million between 1998 and 2003 to abortion providers and advocates, including Planned Parenthood ($1 M), National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) ($700,000), and the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy ($1.5 M).

So here we have a study that finds "results" favoring increased use of the risky, health-harming, abortifacient MAP/EC in girls as young as 15 years old, to be sold over-the-counter like aspirin without parents' knowledge. The study was financed and sponsored by large financial backers of the largest seller of MAP/EC, who in turn partly finances the development and distribution of MAP/EC.

Is it any wonder they "found" what they "found?"

Sincerely,

Annie Banno

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