With a name that means ‘all’, the new drug ellaOne is being marketed as just that, an all in one ‘contraceptive’.
Ella works as a contraceptive by blocking progesterone’s activity, which delays the ovaries from producing an egg. RU-486, too, blocks the action of progesterone, which is also needed to prepare the womb to accept a fertilized egg and to nurture a developing embryo. That’s how RU-486 can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and dislodge growing embryos. Ella’s chemical similarity raises the possibility that it might do the same thing, perhaps if taken at elevated doses. But no one knows for sure because the drug has never been tested that way.
As the National Health Service in the UK recently advised young women to “stockpile” morning after pills, we are setting a dangerous precedent for the new all-in-one pharmaceuticals. What ella does chemically is perhaps not as severe as what it does socially, which is to erase an already blurry line between contraceptive use and routine chemical abortions.by