Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A video, a clarification, and an editorial

Tonight's post has been rescheduled. Instead, I want to share this video with you:

May I take this moment to clarify a common misconception: RU-486 ("the abortion pill") and emergency contraception ("the morning after pill"/ Plan B) are two very different things.

RU-486 is a medical abortion (as opposed to a surgical abortion, performed by a doctor). This can only be done in the first eight or nine weeks of pregnancy; the woman must take two pills, 24-72 hours apart. The medication induces a miscarriage and terminates the pregnancy.

Emergency contraception, commonly referred to as the morning after pill, is not abortive. EC cannot terminate a pregnancy: pregnancy begins when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The reason EC becomes less effective the longer a woman waits to take it (it is most effective in the first 24 hours after intercourse, but can still be effective up to 3-5 days after intercourse) is because EC can only work if the fertilized has not yet implanted. EC is simply a higher dose of the regular hormones in the regular birth control pill, which is why it works the same way (prevents ovulation/ affects lining of the uterus so egg can't implant). When I called my gyno's office to ask for an EC prescription late on a Friday afternoon (years ago, shortly after my first marriage, after I was a little paranoid since I'd already had my first "slip"), they told me to just take four of my regular birth control pills and then to take four more 12 hours later (if you go to you will see a chart detailing the different pill combinations to take, if you have a pack of your regular bc pills and can't get an EC prescription in time).

Many people seem to confuse "the abortion pill" (RU-486) with "the morning after pill" (EC/Plan B) and think EC is abortive, when it is really just a small overdose of the regular birth control pill women have been taking for decades. (Therefore, when a rape victim comes to the hospital and asks for EC, please give it to her. It's the least we can do for her, don't you think?)

Speaking of RU-486, I'd like to share Anna Quindlen's piece in TIME on it. She says it better than I ever could.

1 comment:

  1. Another clarification-- many people say that the birth control pill and morning after pill are "abortive" if they prevent implantation from happening. I've looked into this and found that there appears to be NO EVIDENCE to show that this is true.

    What the pills do: prevent ovulation, and affect the lining of the uterus to make it a hostile environment to sperm. But again, there's no evidence that either pills prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

    (I can provide websites if needed, but currently have a 1 yr old with a possible poopy diaper grabbing at my legs)