Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Last week we reported on a new, more effective emergency birth control option making its way toward U.S. pharmacies. This morning, the Food and Drug Administration took another step forward when they released a set of documents showing that the morning-after pill ulipristal acetate—which moonlights under the name “ellaOne” in Europe—consistently prevents pregnancy without unexpected side effects.
That’s good news, since this latest iteration of the popular emergency contraception pill works longer—up to five days after unprotected sex—and, according to a study done by the British medical journal Lancet, may be twice as effective as Plan B at heading off unwanted pregnancies.
Seems pretty great, right? That’s probably why the drug is already approved for use in 44 countries. But in the notoriously thorny territory of the American birth control debate, critics are crying foul on the new pill, which they argue isn’t birth control at all—it’s abortion. These activists, led by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, draw a direct link between ulipristal acetate, which works by preventing the ovulation of an egg, and RU-486, the so-called “abortion pill.”
“This is a thinly-veiled attempt to get an abortion drug over-the-counter,” Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the AAPLOG, told ABC News earlier this year.
The problem with that argument? RU-486 terminates an in-process pregnancy— ulipristal acetate prevents it from happening in the first place. You know, that thing that birth control normally does. In fact, no patient who suspected they were pregnant already would ever be prescribed an emergency contraceptive, so using the drug that way would be totally illegal.
As we know though, that won’t stop the antiabortionists from railing against the new pill. But hopefully the FDA will put a lid on it soon enough—a panel of experts will convene Thursday to review the findings on ulipristal acetate and decide whether to approve the drug for U.S. markets.
Ryan Brown is a writer living in Boston.More Ryan Brown.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.