By Judie Brown
What is it?
Emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill) is a high dosage of the birth control pill. It is recommended for use after unprotected sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing pregnancy.
There are at least two formulations of the birth control pill that are being marketed as "emergency contraceptives", Plan B and Preven. Though no testing has been done to confirm the safety of these large doses of birth control pills for women (and very limited testing has been done on the specifically marketed "morning-after" pills), the Food and Drug Administration has approved this use.
Where did this idea come from?
The idea of emergency contraception – or a morning-after pill – is based on a theory. Under this theory, if a woman has sexual intercourse and fears she may be pregnant, she can take large doses of birth control pills. If in fact the woman is pregnant when she takes these birth control pills, the high dosage could act to kill her preborn child – a living human being. The only "emergency" in this case is the woman's fear of being pregnant.
How do emergency contraception/morning-after pills work?
The emergency contraceptive/morning-after pill has three modes of action (as does the regular birth control pill); that is, it can work in one of three ways:
1. The normal menstrual cycle is altered, delaying ovulation; or
2. ovulation is inhibited, meaning the egg will not be released from the ovary;
3. it can irritate the lining of the uterus (endometrium) so as to inhibit implantation.
Keep in mind that fertilization (the union of female ovum, or egg, and male sperm) occurs in the fallopian tube and that fertilization marks the beginning of a new human life—and the beginning of the pregnancy. The newly created child then travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus (womb) where he or she implants. Implantation is necessary for the new child to receive nourishment from the mother and continue developing. The journey from the fallopian tube to the womb takes between five and seven days during which pregnancy cannot be readily detected.
Therefore, if a woman ingests emergency contraception after fertilization has taken place, the third mode of action can occur. The lining of the uterus can be altered causing the woman's body to reject the living human embryo, making implantation impossible and the child will die. This result is called a chemical abortion; therefore, emergency contraception is an abortifacient.
Is it safe?
Not only could EC kill a tiny preborn life in its earliest stages, but the 'morning-after' pill is also very dangerous to a woman's health. There are no long term studies to show whether women will be permanently damaged, or risk such diseases as cancer, from these chemicals being given in such high doses.
Sixty percent of girls under the age of 15 are impregnated by adults and are, therefore, in most cases, victims of statutory rape. Over the counter availability of EC increases the likelihood that sexual predators are able to cover their crimes and continue their criminal behavior.
During a panel discussion at the National Press Club's Newsmaker Forum, Kirsten Moore, president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, admitted that the morning-after pill does not reduce pregnancies and abortions as originally touted. "The experts had estimated that we would see a drop by up to half in the rates of unintended pregnancies and the rates of abortion," she said. "In fact, in the real world, we're not seeing that."
Finally, birth control leads to a state of mind that treats sexual activity as if it has nothing to do with babies; babies are treated as "accidents", as a burden to be eliminated. In this way, contraception is clearly linked to abortion.
For more information and additional links to each of these topics, see ALL's project web site: www.morningafterpill.org.
Judie Brown is president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.