Don't Stop the ACLU

Thursday, April 06, 2006

But will you love me tomorrow?

Calling all conservatives: this one's for you.

By now you've probably heard a lot about the "morning-after" pill, and I bet some of what you've heard is inaccurate.

If I understand correctly (and I'm sure you'll let me know if I don't), the reason many conservative people object to the morning-after pill is that they believe it causes abortion, which they believe is murder.

What I wanted to tell you, as discussed late last week on Slate, is that that may not be the case at all. I'll paraphrase a bit, so if you'd like to see the whole of what I've read, simply read the Slate article and follow the links from there.

Plan B is one-stop birth-control. When taken as directed, it will stop an egg from being released. If an egg has been released already, it will prevent fertilization/conception. It will also alter the composition of the uterine lining so that if an egg were already fertilized when the pill was taken, the egg would not be able to attach to to the lining. It does not, however, cause already implanted fertilized eggs to detach. In other words, Plan B does not affect pregnancies already in progress. I repeat, if a woman is pregnant already when she takes Plan B, nothing will happen.

Whether or not you believe that life begins at conception, it is inescapably true that pregnancy is impossible to detect until after a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. The doctors can't tell you until then. They don't know. To quote Slate:

"It takes a week and a half for hormones to register in pregnancy tests. To verify fertilization before then, you'd have to open the woman up. And that would kill the embryo."

So let me put this another way: Someone you love is raped. You take her to the hospital as soon as you can -- maybe an hour or two after it happens. You sit with her, cry with her, wait while the doctors examine her and treat any injuries (internal and/or external) she suffered during the attack. She can take Plan B right now and go to sleep tonight knowing that even if she has contracted a terrible disease, even if her attacker is still out there somewhere, even if she will have to testify against him in a court room and possibly be subject to further abuse in the form of questions about her sex life, her social life, her alcohol consumption, or the length of her skirt (all of which terrors she may have to face), at the very least she will not become pregnant.

Or a physician could refuse to give it to her for "ethical" reasons that may or may not (as discussed above) hold any water. I don't know about you, but if a physician refused Plan B to someone I love under those circumstances, I would be very, very angry.

Just think about that. Then, if you still disagree with me when I say that Plan B should not only be legal, but that hospitals should be required to disperse it to patients who want it, please take a deep breath and calmly tell me why.
posted by Maven Swift at 4:00 PM

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