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Why Plan B Is Different Than Abortion [Video]

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The theory that emergency contraception can abort pregnancies stands on increasingly shaky ground. And thanks to a new video from ASAP Science, even people without advanced degrees in endocrinology can join the conversation. The video walks viewers through the known mechanisms of birth control and boils down science-heavy discussions of hormone cycles and chemistry to the need-to-know info surrounding emergency contraception.

The video illustrates what recent research helps confirm: Morning-after pills almost certainly don't work by causing abortions. Instead, pills like Plan B trigger the release of hormones that prevent fertilization of an egg up to five days after intercourse, similar to how conventional birth control pills work (though not necessarily as effectively) [1]. And while it hasn't been conclusively proven that morning-after pills can never abort a pregnancy, even governmental organizations like the National Institutes of Health have long indicated their belief that they work by preventing fertilization in the first place. As more findings indicate it's unlikely pills like Plan B could cause the body to abort a fertilized and growing embryo, political arguments against making emergency contraception more widely available are taking a big hit.

It might not be the most fun topic on YouTube, but with helpful (and tasteful) illustrations, the ASAP Science team makes the whole explanation interesting and viewer-friendly, going a long way to debunk the Plan B/abortion connection in under three minutes.

Check out the video below:

What did you think of the video? Should morning-after pills be more widely available? Share in the comments below or tweet the author @d_tao.

I'm the chief research officer for Greatist.com and a greatist since 2011. Originally from Kentucky but now calling NYC home. Read More »

Works Cited

  1. Emergency Contraception — Mechanisms of Action. Gemzell-Danielsson, K., Berger, C. Department of Women's and Children's Health, Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska Institutet.  Contraception. 2012 Oct 29. pii: S0010-7824(12)00750-0. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.08.021.