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Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC

Beliefs About the Morning-After Pill: Unfounded

By September 12, 2013

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In the midst of debate, politicians offer their opinions and solutions for many hot button topics. An example of this can be seen in some of their stances on so-called personhood laws. It seems to me, though, that although these politicians may talk a big game, many don't understand exactly what it is they are actually talking about. It is our job, as educated citizens, to think critically about some of these topics and not place our blind faith in the notion that these politicians are "in the know."

Some of of elected officials have publicly stated that emergency contraceptives are "abortive pills." Yet definitions, like this, that attempt to establish fertilization as the beginning of pregnancy are in opposition to decades of federal policy as well as the long-standing view of the medical community. It appears that emergency contraception continues to be a highly emotional and controversial issue, both for those who believe it lowers the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions as well as for opponents who believe that using it equates to an abortion -- "the moral equivalent of homicide." Yet it can be strongly argued that this politically charged debate over the morning-after pill may actually be rooted in outdated and incorrect scientific guesses about how these pills work (go figure - right?).

Despite lack of scientific proof and objections by the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step, the FDA has managed to fuel this controversy by choosing to include, on the drug's product label, that one of the ways that Plan B works is by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. In fact, the FDA's own description was speculative, saying Plan B "could theoretically prevent pregnancy by..."

And it turns out, research is consistently showing that what happens "theoretically" is much different than what ACTUALLY happens when women use Plan B One-Step as emergency contraception. So what caused all this confusion? Why is there such a discrepancy between what has been found in research and what the FDA product labels say?

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