Thursday, July 03, 2014

Plan B

A good friend pointed out the following to me, which appears to come from someone who disagrees with the Hobby Lobby decision:

plan b is not an abortion method, it cannot kill a fetus in any way

Just a quick response:

  1. Plan B contains 1.5mg of a drug known as levonorgestrel in a single oral pill. It's widely used as an emergency contraceptive due to its effects: (a) interfering with female ovulation, (b) interfering with male sperm function including motility, and (c) interfering with the process of implantation in the woman's womb or uterus.

    Letters (a) and (b) are fine with most pro-lifers. But (c) is the problem.

    Of course, if levonorgestrel interferes with an egg or sperm prior to conception, then (c) wouldn't be necessary, for there would be no embryo to implant in the first place. Many abortionists say (c) is unlikely to pose a problem because (a) and/or (b) would most likely take place, rendering (c) all but moot.

    But pro-lifers think since (c) is a possible effect of the drug, such as if (a) or (b) fail, if fertilization has already occurred, then levonorgestrel still stands as a potential abortifacient.

    In fact, my understanding is, orally, such as in Plan B, ovulation interference occurs in less than 50% of women. So we're generally relying on (b) and (c) more than (a).

    Besides, have there been any good studies done on the likelihoods of (a) and/or (b) and/or (c) to occur?

  2. Also, what about intention? Shouldn't that be a factor?

    That is, why use Plan B as an emergency contraceptive pill if the intention is not to keep conception from occurring or to keep a conception that has already occurred from developing further?

    It's possible I'm missing something here though.

  3. BTW, I wonder if this person is attempting to obfuscate the issue by using "fetus" at this juncture? Medically speaking, the baby is considered an embryo in its first eight weeks of development. Only after week eight is the baby termed a fetus. So I suppose in a sense Plan B "cannot kill a fetus in any way" but that's because a "fetus" wouldn't be the term for a baby at this time (i.e. conception).

    Nevertheless, it's possible Plan B kills the baby at conception (assuming pro-life premises).

  4. Perhaps the confusion arises from the following:

    Plan B One-Step is not the same as RU-486, which is an abortion pill. It does not cause a miscarriage or abortion. In other words, it does not stop development of a fetus once the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. So it will not work if you are already pregnant when you take it.

    I'd first note the same article earlier says:

    It is also possible that this type of emergency birth control prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus by altering its lining.

    On the face of it, this seems sort of in tension (for lack of a better word) with the claim "it does not stop development of a fetus once the fertilized egg implants in the uterus."

    But digging a bit deeper, the assumption here seems to be "pregnancy" is defined as occurring at implantation. But that shouldn't be the issue. The issue should be the status of the fertilized egg (+/- implantation).

    Indeed, it's the very point of contention in the debate: pro-lifers view the fertilized egg as a baby.

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