All bishops in North Rhine-Westphalia are switching to Cardinal Meisner's line on the morning-after pill. Dr. Christian Albring, chairman of the Federal Association of Gynecologists, explains on our site interview once again the medical facts.
Interviewer: What then is the official position of your association?
Dr. Christian Albring: We now know that ovulation is postponed by the morning-after pill, we also know that it does not result in the implantation of fertilized eggs. That is, all the doctors or other people who say that it prevents implantation, they don't know that, they just believe in it. And this is not good in the field of science.
Interviewer: Are those
new scientific findings? Where does this disagreement between gynecologists, i.e. specialists, come from??
Dr. Albring: These are indeed new findings of the last two years and they have only become aware of them because three years ago there was the introduction of a new preparation. In this context, the literature has been researched, new studies have been published and these studies have shown that. Of course, the new preparation had to be compared with the old one to see whether it might work better. And in the process, the knowledge was gained that only a postponement of ovulation occurs, but not the prevention of implantation. Women who took the morning-after pill after ovulation were compared with women who did not take the pill for contraception. It was found that the pregnancy rate was the same in both groups. This is clear evidence that the pill does not prevent implantation of the fertilized egg.
Interviewer: In concrete terms, this means that an "abortifacient effect" can definitely be ruled out? This is decisive for the Catholic Church in the current discussion.
Dr. Albring: An abortifacient effect can definitely be ruled out at this dosage.
Interviewer: Which preparation are we talking about? EllaOne and PiDaNa are available. Do both preparations work as you described?
Dr. Albring: That is correct, both preparations work in such a way that they postpone ovulation, whereby the newer morning-after pill, i.e. EllaOne, still works until shortly before ovulation, i.e. a few hours before. The other pill is only effective if taken two days before ovulation, and since the probability of fertilization is greatest within this time, it is of course sensible to only prescribe the modern pill.
Interviewer: Let's ame that a woman comes to you for advice, and you have an informative discussion about the morning-after pill: How long can a woman then continue to take this pill?
Dr. Albring: We don't always know when the woman is ovulating, if I just talk to the woman. The old morning-after pill is approved for three days after sexual intercourse, while the new pill is approved for five days. So if I have sexual intercourse today, I can still take the morning-after pill from today until five days later, but only the modern pill. Nevertheless, we recommend to take the morning-after pill as early as possible, because the highest effect occurs when it is taken immediately after the unwanted intercourse.
Interviewer: The opposition, i.e. the SPD and the Greens, now want to ensure that women will be able to obtain the morning-after pill without a prescription in the future. From your experience, how important is it that women also receive professional advice before taking the preparation??
Dr. Albring: The consultation is important because the women can then also be helped with regard to continuous contraception, also for the months afterwards and also with regard to sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, the reason why counseling is important is to tell the woman if and when she needs to take the morning-after pill, because in the other countries where the morning-after pill has been released, the pregnancy rates of unwanted pregnancies have not decreased, whereas that has been the case in Germany continuously for almost ten years already. This is a success of the advice given by doctors and the information provided, for example, by the German Federal Center for Health Education (Bundeszentrale fur gesundheitliche Aufklarung).
Interviewer: We have just talked about the importance of counseling. What is your basic position on this?? Should the morning-after pill be made free so that women no longer have to go to the doctor, or is that the wrong way to go??
Dr. Albring: The SPD and Die Linke are calling for the release of the old morning-after pill, because the new morning-after pill, EllaOne, requires a prescription throughout Europe. But if you release the old pill, then there are three times more pregnancies than with the new preparation. In this respect, the professional association of gynecologists rejects this release.
The interview was conducted by Stephanie Gebert.