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Linacre Q. 2015 Feb;82(1):18-33. doi: 10.1179/2050854914Y.0000000026.

Mechanism of action of levonorgestrel emergency contraception.

Author information

1
The Polycarp Research Institute, Enola, PA, USA.
2
Florida State University College of Medicine, FL, USA.
3
College of Medicine Penn State University; Hershey, PA, USA.

Abstract

There has been much debate regarding levonorgestrel emergency contraception's (LNG-EC's) method of action since 1999 when the Food and Drug Administration first approved its use. Proponents of LNG-EC have argued that they have moral certitude that LNG-EC works via a non-abortifacient mechanism of action, and claim that all the major scientific and medical data consistently support this hypothesis. However, newer medical data serve to undermine the consistency of the non-abortifacient hypothesis and instead support the hypothesis that preovulatory administration of LNG-EC has significant potential to work via abortion. The implications of the newer data have important ramifications for medical personnel, patients, and both Catholic and non-Catholic emergency room protocols. In the future, technology such as the use of early pregnancy factor may have the potential to quantify how frequently preovulatory LNG-EC works via abortion. Lay Summary: How Plan B (levonorgestrel emergency contraception) works has been vigorously debated ever since the Food and Drug Administration approved it in 1999. Many doctors and researchers claim that it has either no-or at most-an extremely small chance of working via abortion. However, the latest scientific and medical evidence now demonstrates that levonorgestrel emergency contraception theoretically works via abortion quite often. The implications of the newer data have important ramifications for medical personnel, patients, and both Catholic and non-Catholic emergency room rape protocols.

KEYWORDS:

Abortion; Early pregnancy factor; Levonorgestrel emergency contraception; Moral certitude

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