“Morning After Pill Works As Birth Control, Not Abortion.” That most likely should have been the headline for an important New York Times piece discussing the paper’s own thorough review of the existing science on emergency contraception. Instead, the Times went with a mix of less straightforward headlines, one of which was the awfully fuzzy “Abortion Qualms on Morning-After Pill May be Unfounded.”
In spite of its indirect the headlines, the story clearly demonstrated what feminists have long maintained: EC works by preventing fertilization, not blocking implantation. The Times states that the morning after pill operates like birth control and doesn’t interfere with fertilized eggs. This goes against what many opponents of EC, including Republican presidential candidates, have casually claimed, conflating this pill that prevents pregnancy with a procedure that ends it.
Some reproductive rights advocates saw the piece as unequivocal support for their side, including Anika Rahman from the Ms. Foundation, who, said in a statement, that “the right wing can no longer mask their anti-women conspiracy behind inflammatory rhetoric and unscientific claims.”
But is this wishful thinking? My experience observing the extreme end of the anti-choice spectrum, the driving force behind the “War on Women,” suggests to me that scientific facts matter very little to such a worldview.
Without getting graphic about it, I remember the moment the condom broke.
It was my senior year of college. I felt eerily composed as I drove, later that same night, to campus health services to get the so-called morning-after pill. I can’t believe how calm I was; it’s completely contrary to my personality, but somehow, my brain managed to get quiet and I saw the solution.
The fact that I knew about emergency contraception (EC) was the result of having access to correct information about it — what it is, where I could get it, how it would work. I knew I needed to use it within 72 hours, and that it was safe, effective and readily available. I had no trouble getting it; there were no strange looks, derisive comments or accusations. No “conscience clause” was invoked. I also am white, was over the age of 18 and went to a large university in the Northeast. I was given two pills — one of which I took that night, the other the next day. I don’t remember any significant side effects, and a few weeks later, I got my period.
When my neighbor told me that “Plan B” was the name he had picked for the sports bar he was opening, I just about choked. Until I told him, he had no idea that it’s the name of the morning-after pill; he went with the name anyway.
So I thought it very clever when I saw that the National Council of Jewish Women is calling its new campaign for contraception access “Plan A.” After all, if we have a Plan A, we won’t need to get to Plan B, right? “Plan A” is an outgrowth of NCJW’s activism on women’s reproductive health and a response to the U.S. Senate’s passage, last October, of a bill that allocates $50 million of new tax money to abstinence-only education programs.