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Austin Cline

Emergency Contraception is not Abortion

By June 22, 2005

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Pharmacists who object on moral grounds to dispensing emergency contraception argue that it prevents a fertilized egg from implanting, a form of abortion. Medically, though, that's not an abortion - an abortion only involves the removal of an implanted embryo. Even so, emergency contraception rarely even prevents implantation.

In reality, emergency contraception usually prevents eggs from being released in the first place and, hence, prevents fertilization from ever occurring:

[S]cientists say there is no scientific evidence the pills prevent implantation--and considerable evidence they work mainly by blocking the release of an egg from the woman's ovary, so no embryo is formed. "The pervasive myth out there is that emergency contraception is an abortifacient," said Dr. David Archer, director of clinical research at the Contraceptive Research and Development Program of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. "But there's no evidence scientifically that that's true."

For one thing, Archer points out, emergency contraception generally doesn't work if taken after a woman has ovulated. On the other hand, no one can prove that the pill doesn't interfere with implantation.
[Chicago Tribune]

The unscientific views of these Christian pharmacists is having a serious impact on women's health:

In Missouri, a recent survey of 920 pharmacies found that 70 percent do not stock Plan B and most won't order it if a customer requests it.

The most recent statements about how emergency contraception works are based upon scientific studies. The Christian Right has demonstrated over and over again that they don't care the slightest bit about science, so it's unlikely that any of this information will affect their opposition to emergency contraception. We must remember that their long-term agenda includes opposition to contraception overall.

One interesting bit of information in the article involves breast feeding. Emergency contraception, if it prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg, does so by changing the uterine lining. If this makes emergency contraception an abortifacient, though, then breast feeding is an abortifacient because that also causes changes in the uterine lining for up to six months.

Breast feeding: it's the new abortion.

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