Anti-ScienceScience

The reason(s) why this post is late…

Sorry today’s post is late. I blame it on Pluto being in the seventh house.

Wait a second, you mean to tell me Pluto’s not a planet anymore? Oh no, astrology is ruined! Again!

In that case, I blame it on the big party going on thanks to the end of the stem cell debate, now that scientists have developed a way to extract stem cells without impairing baby potential.

Hold on, you mean that’s just going to start a whole new debate? Well, crap.

I guess today’s post is late because I’m just so excited about the FDA approving over-the-counter sales of the morning after pill. And guess what? There’s no (huge) downside. It’s just that simple: adult women can now purchase Plan B without a prescription. That’s huge. It’s a good article, too, so check it out (just sign up for the damned free registration or go to bugmenot.com). Here’s a blub:

Anti-abortion groups strongly opposed Barr’s application to switch Plan B from prescription to over-the-counter status, saying that the medicine is an abortion pill whose widespread availability could lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

Abortion rights advocates pushed equally hard to get the application approved, contending that easy access to Plan B would sharply reduce the nearly 1 million abortions performed each year in the United States.

Both sides are wrong, studies suggest. Couples in the United States have so much unprotected sex — half of all pregnancies are unplanned — that even if the pills were passed out like lollipops, they would be unlikely to cause a major change in abortion and disease rates.

So as usual, both sides are twisting things to push their politics, but what it comes down to is this: it’s contraception that is about as far removed from baby killing as is jacking off into a tissue. If used properly, it’s not dangerous in the least. If used improperly, you’re an idiot who deserves death. It’s not a political issue, it’s just common sense.

Though I must admit I may be a little biased. I was 21 the first (and only, thus far) time a condom broke. While my (now ex)boyfriend panicked, I breathed deeply and remembered what the doctors at Planned Parenthood told me (we weren’t taught this in high school health class) — I had a window of a few days to get the pill. The next morning I called PP, set up an immediate appointment, took the bus out that afternoon, got an examination and a prescription, went to the pharmacy, and took the pill. I had no job at the time and so no insurance. PP charged me whatever donation I could afford (I scrounged up $10). Washington State paid for the pill. Had I not lived in a large liberal city in a state with nearly socialist leanings, who knows what would’ve happened.

It’s just stupid that this has taken so long to be approved for over the counter use, and it’s all thanks to somebody getting their religion all tangled up in my science. Let’s hear it for progress!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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9 Comments

  1. Oh, wow. That's awesome news! Hooray for reproductive freedom. Now, pardon me, I'm off to go have some unprotected sex…

    Kidding aside, it really is great news. Finally, an issue where we're not backsliding into an abyss of legislalation based solely on religious morality.

  2. This is good news. But, I don't understand the reasoning behind this statement:

    "Both sides are wrong, studies suggest. Couples in the United States have so much unprotected sex — half of all pregnancies are unplanned — that even if the pills were passed out like lollipops, they would be unlikely to cause a major change in abortion …."

    Unprotected sex and unplanned pregnancies are exactly what these pills are for. So if there are a lot unplanned pregnancies due to unprotected sex, then wide and easy availability of these pills might reduce the number of these that end in abortion.

  3. This battle may be won, but the other side has already started fighting the war on another front: The "right" of pharmacists to not sell these pills if it infringes on their religious beliefs. At least, even if they win there, people can still go to other pharmacies, but I still hope they don't win that battle.

    Imagine the slippery-slope that would follow, however, if religious beliefs become an excuse to not do your job and not get fired for it. "Yeah… my religion forbids me from working on any day but Sunday, and you guys aren't open then. Could I still get paid?"

  4. Joshucolwell, I think that quote is trying to say this: A woman in a relationship who is not actively trying to have a child usually does not find out she pregnant within a few days of getting pregnant. By the time she finds out she is pregnant, it will be too late to use Plan B. Therefore, whether or not Plan B is readily available will have no change in abortion rates.

    Does that make sense? Again, that's what I think the quote is trying to say; it really isn't clear.

  5. Debo, I understand your point. But the wording of the quotation doesn't make sense. The usage of Plan B must have a positive correlation with the fraction of pregnancies that are unplanned and the fraction of sex that is unprotected. The correlation of its use with protected sex would be no stronger than the failure rate of the protection, which is about 1%. As you say, in many cases it will be too late, and an unplanned pregnancy does not necessarily equal an unwanted pregnancy. My guess is that a lot of sex is unprotected because hormones temporarily override foresight. In those cases, in the clear thinking of the next day, Plan B would be an option some might choose.

    Anyway, I'm glad it's available.

  6. The paragraph in the article that immidiately follows the blurb in the post will help clarify matters:

    "“Emergency contraceptives don’t work if, like condoms, they’re left in the drawer,” said Dr. James Trussell, director of the office of population research at Princeton University. “And studies show that even if women have the pills on hand, the drawer is where they remain.”"

    So, in other words, people who buy the pill and don't end up taking it are a) idiots and b) still going to experience unwanted pregnancies.

    However, the article goes on to state that increasing availability of contraceptives have helped reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies in the past, and this will probably continue that trend. Hope that helps!

    BTW I've been following this story for some time now, and I'm so happy it's available as an OTC! Like Infophile, though, I'm worried about pharmacists who refuse to dispense it. Luckily I live in Illinois, where pharmacists must by law dispense birth control without delay. Although now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure the language specified that it must be with a prescription. Perhaps that's a loophole in existing legislation that must be addressed.

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