Even in pro-life circles, the debate about when life begins remains a heated one. This has played a role in the lack of conversation within the movement about the rise of the use of abortifacients like Plan B, which is also known as the ‘morning-after pill.’ Instead, pro-lifers have opted to shine a light on surgical abortions happening at clinics around the nation. While this is good and necessary, it is time for pro-lifers to be more vocal about the unique lives also ended by Plan B.
According to the Plan B website, the drug is “emergency contraception you take within 72 hours after unprotected sex.” In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B as an over-the-counter drug available to anyone, even to those under 18, without a doctor’s prescription.
Before this approval, a 2013 report done by National Center for Health Statistics found that, among sexually-active females aged 15 – 19, 22% had used Plan B. That was up 8% from a similar study done in 2002. There is no doubt that since Plan B is more widely available, that percentage has continued to rise.
Plan B can end a pregnancy in two different ways. According to the drug’s website, the pill first works by trying to delay the release of an egg from the ovary. The website is silent on what happens next, but, according to the FDA, “if fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).” There is no way for a woman to tell in which way the drug will prevent pregnancy.
It is important in this discussion to distinguish fertilization from implantation. A unique zygote with unique DNA is formed the moment the sperm and egg unite, though it then can take up to nine days for the newly-created embryo to travel and implant itself in the uterus. Many consider implantation the point at which a woman is pregnant, which allows Plan B to claim that it is “not an abortion pill and will not be effective if a woman is already pregnant.” While it may be the case that under their definition of pregnancy the embryo has not yet implanted in the uterus, a unique person’s life has still been ended when an embryo is terminated before implantation.
Because of the use of euphemistic terms around drugs like Plan B, as well as the lack of information and dialogue about what is happening when a woman takes them, many use the drugs within that period before implantation without considering that they could be ending a human life. According to an article from the Right to Life of Central Kentucky, in 1963, even the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare put out a public health leaflet stating that anything that “impairs life between the moment of fertilization and the completion of labor is to be considered an abortion.”
According to its website, Plan B is effective in seven out of every eight uses. The last report on the sales of Plan B was done in 2006, a year that saw 1.5 million pills sold. Data and information from the last few decades is shockingly non-existent, which makes it near impossible to find statistics on the number of women who have used Plan B.
Most Hillsdale students are openly pro-life. More than 100 attended this year’s March for Life, and more than 500 are on Hillsdale College for Life’s email list. A common slogan often thrown around within the pro-life movement is that our generation is “the most pro-life generation.” To live up to that label, we must be willing to acknowledge that Plan B is ending lives. It is time to take a logically-consistent stand against all forms of abortion, no matter how soon after conception they are used or how young the embryo is.