Plan B’s US Victory Might Be Just The Start of Full Reproductive Choice Worldwide

By Donald A. Collins | 12 June 2013
Church and State

Plan B emergency contraception. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters)

Can you believe how bad the Vatican has been at marketing its antiquated views to its allegedly vast committed base of supplicants?

The Pope and his pals have for so long so badly ignored the obvious ways to make their religious zealotry even partially palatable to its faithful. Try suggesting to their massive deafness things which reason and humility make obvious: Allow women priests, authorize modern contraception, allow safe early abortions and agree that some people are born to feel sexual love for members of their same sex.

Ho, hum. Membership in developed countries among the educated has fallen dramatically. The RCC has recovered (temporarily in my view) these losses by seeking and finding the less educated wherever they exist, mostly in developing countries. Of course in the USA the Vatican has worked successfully in stuffing them into their pews here via advocacy of open border legislation or lax enforcement.

As the hearings on the controversial immigration bill before the US Senate began this week, Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of NYC, weighed into the debate highly in favor of more unneeded immigrants, just as his church has long favored promoting unwanted pregnancies, which population experts say occurred in close to 50% of all births in the 20th Century and probably only slightly less so far in this century.

But a victory is a victory and let’s celebrate the hard fought one by the Center for Reproductive Rights over Plan B. As the Washington Post’s June 11th page one story, “Obama administration drops fight to keep age restrictions on Plan B sales” tells us,

The Obama administration on Monday abandoned its fight to keep age restrictions on sales of a widely used morning-after contraceptive pill, a stark legal reversal that ended years of court battles but did little to extinguish political passions on both sides of the issue.

In a letter Monday to U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman in New York, who has called the age restrictions “politically motivated” and “scientifically unjustified,” the administration said it would drop its appeal in the case and abide by Korman’s order to make Plan B One-Step contraceptive pills available to women and girls of any age without a prescription.

President Obama has not changed his position and still opposes over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptives for young girls, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday to describe the White House’s reasoning. But the Justice Department decided to drop the case after multiple setbacks in federal courts in recent months.

Advocates for birth control cheered Monday’s decision as a victory for women’s rights and a boon to public health.

“This is a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women’s health and equity,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Monday, adding that the decision “will make emergency contraception available on store shelves, just like condoms, and women of all ages will be able to get it quickly in order to prevent unintended pregnancy.”

Antiabortion groups criticized the administration’s decision, restating their long-held view that giving young girls access to the contraceptive without requiring the notification of a doctor or parent could lead to reckless behavior.

“Parents all across the country ought to be really, really concerned that we’re seeing the Obama administration completely surrender any principle of defending women’s health to the politics of big abortion,” said Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest. “There are so many reasons to maintain some measure of control over the distribution of such a strong drug, particularly to young women. I see this as a really, really terrible development. . . . I just think it’s very troubling and sets a really bad standard.”

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday evening that it had asked the drug’s manufacturer, Teva Branded Pharmaceutical Products, to submit an application to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter without restrictions.

“Once FDA receives that supplemental application, the FDA intends to approve it promptly,” the agency said. Teva Pharmaceuticals declined to comment Monday on the decision and could not say how soon the pill would be available on pharmacy shelves.

Plan B is classified by the FDA as an emergency contraceptive and greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after intercourse. It differs from abortion drugs such as RU486, which is intended to terminate a pregnancy that already has been established.

However, folks, ideologues, especially those with Federal Government power, seldom cry “uncle” and as the preceding article notes, Obama, allegedly according to an unnamed administration spokesperson, “has not changed his position and still opposes over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptives for young girls”. Ok, he has two young daughters, but to my mind this would be all the more reason to favor Plan B. Likely a political angle is involved, e.g. trying to keep some conservative, anti abortion wing nuts mollified–which, Mr. President, is impossible.

And now, another reason to cry “uncle”. As Amy Kuras of the Stir tells us in her August 18, 2010 article entitled, “Ella: Abortion Pill or Wonder Drug?”,

When the FDA approved ella as emergency contraception last week, anti-abortion activists howled. They claim that the pills, which work by using progesterone to delay or prevent ovulation, can keep an already fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and that it can abort an already-implanted embryo.

HRA Pharma, the makers of ella, don’t have any information easily available about the drug. If it works like already-existing emergency contraception Plan B, though, it could possibly prevent a fertilized egg from implanting but won’t end an existing pregnancy.

Abortion foes actually launched a website, ella Causes Abortions, that claims to lay out the facts about ella. But like so much in the “pro-life” movement, I’m just seeing scare tactics.

Ella only works for five days after unprotected sex, and because of that you’ll never know if there was a fertilized egg in play or not. And a fertilized egg, without implanting in the uterus, does not a baby make. Essentially what ella does is cover the bases a little better than Plan B, which only remains fully effective for three days after unprotected sex, if you happened to have an oops encounter while you were ovulating.

I’m just going to throw this out there: So what if it does block implantation of a fertilized egg? Women who are taking emergency contraception emphatically, seriously, absolutely do not want to get pregnant. These are not the women who would have a change of heart after attempting to schedule an abortion a la Juno or Miranda from Sex and the City. If you believe life begins the minute sperm meets egg, then yes, I suppose that would seem to be a tragedy. But I think the greater tragedy would be children brought into the world unwanted and unloved.

Let’s not forget that not all unprotected sex is consensual, either. Are we really going to keep women who’ve survived that most personal of violations from having to endure at least one of the possible repercussions? Can you be that cruel? I can’t.

I’m personally opposed to abortion; I wish no one ever chose to end an unwanted pregnancy and instead joyfully chose to place those children for adoption by a loving home. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and until then, there needs to be reproductive choice.

So I presume Obama didn’t want to go through another Plan B drill and with Ella already FDA approved….

Most important, in talking with my California MD daughter in law, who has spent years providing reproductive health care to women, I learned that Ella is a better choice than Plan B. She tells me that Plan B has not been as effective in certain women as Ella which causes the egg not to implant up to 5 days after a failed contraceptive.

As the unfair world for too many women goes forward, we can be optimistic that medical means of being able to keep from getting pregnant or chemical means of ending an unwanted pregnancy will be entirely a woman’s decision, as it should have been all along. Yes, there will still be occasions for surgical abortion services, but perhaps by then people such as Charmaine Yoest will have lost most of her constituency.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
ASIN: B00MA40TVE
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Obama Administration Abandons Fight on Plan B Age Restrictions – Jun 11th, 2013

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