Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Support for the Morning-After-Pill

In what appears to be an attempt to court his party’s socially conservative base for a possible Presidential run, New York Governor George Pataki has announced he will veto a bill that would have made the so-called morning-after-bill (known as Plan B) available over-the-counter. His rationale was that the legislation did not restrict access to minors.

As Jeremy points out over at Charging RINO, New York State already allows minors to have abortions without restrictions. But somehow keeping minors away from a drug that would prevent pregnancy is more important than restricting them from obtaining an abortion. That alone makes Pataki’s position untenable.

But let’s pull back and look at the national debate concerning the morning-after-pill. Anyone who reads my writings regularly knows that I prefer to look at the issue of abortion outside the legal/illegal paradigm. Instead I choose to focus on what I think is the core issue: how do we as a society prevent and ultimately stop people from wanting abortions?

There are many ideas out there, but none will work fully without the existence and use of birth control. And that means promoting a sense of responsibility amongst all those not ready for children. Plan B fits right into that culture of responsibility.

First, it’s important to note that Plan B prevents pregnancy by preventing implantation of any fertilized embryos. It does not cause an abortion because there is never a pregnancy involved. But it does raise an ethical issue we need to consider. If an egg has been fertilized and Plan B is used, that embryo will be lost. For an absolutist, such an act is unforgivable. But for those of us who recognize the dangers of absolutist thinking, Plan B is really the last chance of preventing a future abortion. It’s ethical advantages in promoting responsibility and preventing abortion outweigh the ethical issue of preventing the implantation of an embryo.

Additionally, no one would want to use Plan B as a regular means of birth control. It’s harsh on the woman’s body. Furthermore, many who use Plan B are doing so because 1) their usual means of birth control failed (a broken condom for instance) or 2) they immediately realized they made a huge error in judgment. In both cases, the desire to use Plan B is a very responsible reaction to a difficult situation.

Would we as a society prefer that people not take immediate action to rectify a mistake or accident? Is it better for these women to wait and then later have an abortion?

Truly solving the problem of abortion requires promoting responsibility both before and after pregnancy. The morning-after-pill is a very responsible response and should be part of the solution to the abortion problem. Treating it as equally repugnant as abortion itself clouds the debate and actually hinders efforts to reduce abortion.

We should support availability of the morning-after-pill


At 12:16 PM, Blogger amba said...

I totally, totally agree with you. This will be one of my recommendations in Part III of The AmbivAbortion Rant (when I finally get time to write it), which I'll likely cross-post here.

Nature sacrifices an unknown but large number of fertilized eggs, which never implant, for a number of reasons. The question for me is whether a girl's or woman's judgment that she is unready to take on the responsibility of motherhood may legitimately take its place among those reasons. Catholics are entitled to their position, which is that it should be entirely up to God who gets here or doesn't get here -- God's hand being seen at work in absolutely anything outside our own will. But I think that in the Catholic position, besides a real awe for the mystery of life's beginning, there is also a broad streak of mistrust of/distaste for sex, a sense that if you ever do it just for love or pleasure, pregnancy is a kind of deserved punishment.

Above all, a female is never supposed to live, even briefly, for herself. She is to be "at your service," ever a means to an end, and to accept this with joy and submission as her highest calling. How convenient for everyone else! Motherhood is a high calling, and some young, unready girls do a valiant job of rising to it, but others do not. And I share your view that knowing she's not ready, and proactively using birth control and Plan B rather than opting for denial and ending up on the abortion table, is a responsible choice.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Shay said...

I'm pro-choice, but minors can get an abortion without restrictions in New York? Highly problematic to me, as it undermines parental authority. But yet I do support the morning-after pill (though not for minors).

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Shay said...

I do believe that you're being naive that some women won't use Plan B as a regular means of birth control, arguing that it’s harsh on the woman’s body. I personally know of a woman who has had **10** (yes, 10) abortions. So I'm skeptical there.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...


If this sounds trite, forgive me, but I'd like to pose a question.

Should minors require parental consent to buy condoms? If not, why should one form of birth control be restricted and not another?

As far as abuse goes, yes, there will always be instances of abuse, such as your 10 abortion case. However, I don't see the Morning After Pill / Plan B (personally, I prefer "Oops!") becoming the standard form of birth control. Why? Because it is EXPENSIVE compared to other forms of birth control! The estimates I've seen say about $20. I just don't see droves of underage women ditching condoms or the pill in order to buy a $20 each time they have sex.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


The whole minors issue really complicates things. I am generally in favor of parental notification for abortions. But my fear with the morning-after-pill is that most minors would rather wait-and-see rather than getting permission from Mom and Dad. That would not really help.

I dunno. It's complicated.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

As for using Plan B as a means of birth control--that would just be odd to be responsible enough to go get Plan B after every sexual encounter, but not responsible enough to go on the pill itself (and, mind you, Plan B is just a concentrated dose of the same hormones found in the pill).

People who get multiple abortions are not doing so out of a sense of responsibility.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

parental control is a VERY slippery slope here. If minors aren't allowed doctor-patient confidentiality then I would predict a lot less doctor visits or necessary conversations with doctors and poorer health for an age-group that is already drastically under-informed, especially as it pertains to sexual/medical issues. As my wife reminds me, this is a huge public health issue...not just a personal choice issue.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger gibeonstar said...

Actually, Plan B's primary mechanism is to delay or inhibit ovulation, and there is little evidence that it does diddly squat with the uterine lining.

Of course, you can't prove something absolutely false, and so that little albatross will probably always hang around the neck of EC.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger amba said...

You must be aware of the study that was done that showed that the sexual conduct of teen-age girls did not become more reckless when Plan B was made easily available to them. The study was done to meet the FDA's principal objection when it rejected the application the first time around -- that not enough was known about the effects on behavior. The result: the only thing 2000 California girls and women did differently when they had a supply of Plan B at home was make use of the drug after unprotected sex significantly more often than they did when it was hard to get. Here's my post on it, with a link to the January WaPo story.


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