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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.