Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pro-lifers for Plan B

With all the controversy around the FDA's refusal to approve the emergency contraception drug Plan B (despite the recommendation of its board of experts), Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman makes a prolife argument for approving the drug, especially in light of its effectiveness in preventing conception but not implantation. "As a longtime pro-lifer, I think anti-abortion groups had solid grounds to oppose the morning-after pill when its function was unclear--as I did. But given what we now know, it's a grave mistake to keep opposing it. In fact, there are grounds for celebration: A drug once believed to produce abortion is found to prevent abortion."

So, the big question for the prolife movement: Do we want to prevent unwanted pregnancies or not? When some in the prolife movement speak (Chapman quotes the American Life League: "Plan B aborts children and hurts women"; and Concerned Women for America, which opposes it partly because of its "abortifacient potential") I find myself wondering if what they're most concerned about is making sure people who have sex outside of marriage suffer "the consequences"--in this case, pregnancy. And that seems like a wrongheaded approach to me.

A final interesting point from Chapman: "There is no way to be 100 percent sure that emergency contraception never interferes with implantation. But the mere possibility of an adverse event is a poor reason to reject its use. After all, breast-feeding is known to cause uterine changes that can prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted. No one in the pro-life movement would say mothers should therefore abstain from nursing. Just as nursing is morally and ethically permissible because it advances worthy purposes, so is the morning-after pill."

PS. If you want to read Chapman's column, you better do it quick; the Tribune starts charging after seven days.


At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference between preventing a fertilized egg from being implanted because of breastfeeding versus taking a pill. With the former, there is probably no intent to prevent the egg from implanting, but there is a chance (which I did not know), and it's secondary to the intent of feeding the child at the breast. With the latter, there may be the hope that the pill prevents the fertilization, but there is still the intent to prevent the pregnancy, even if it is through preventing the implantation of the fertilized egg.

What we really need to do is support the prevention of fertilization, or if fertilization does occur, do everything we can as a community to support the woman and man who have conceived the child -- not give them no other option but this pill or abortion.


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