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Why Plan B Is Different Than Abortion [Video]
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) . 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.
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This is maddening. The modern Christian view that life begins at conception didn't become widely accepted until it became politically convenient in the wake of Roe v. Wade. Why nobody seems to understand or care that modern Christian views on abortion (in America, at least) were born in Washington instead of the Bible is baffling.
@Staleek This is false.
Early church leaders recognized the Bible’s prohibition of abortion.
One of the reasons that the Bible does not contain specific references to abortion is because the prohibition was completely covered in "Thou shall not murder". Israelites well understood this to mean killing by sword, by strangulation, by poison, by abortion, and by all other means.
Later, as the church began to spread to the Gentile cultures that did not share the Israelite traditions, specific prohibitions were written. Church leaders and others consistently forbade the practice of abortion based upon their understanding of the Bible. Below are examples:
"Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born" (Letter of Barnabas 19 from 74 AD).
"…And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25, 137 AD).
"You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy a newborn child" (Didache 2:1 from 150 AD).
"There are some women among you who by drinking special potions extinguish the life of the future human in their very bowels, thus committing murder before they even give birth." (Mark Felix, Christian Lawyer, Octavius chap. 30 from 170 AD).
"The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion (see Ex. 21:22) Tertullian, 210 AD.
"Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does" (Tertullian, Apology 27 from 210 AD).
"Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses." (First Canonical Letter from 374 AD).
"The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind." (The Works of Josephus, Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II, 25).
"Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder" (Jerome, Letters 22:13 from 396 AD).
EC (Plan B and ella) is believed to work in three ways: inhibiting or delaying ovulation, inhibiting fertilization by preventing the sperm from reaching the ovum, and by creating a hostile endometrium (uterine lining), which would inhibit the blastocyst (early embryo) from implanting.
Whether or not emergency contraception (EC) can inhibit implantation has simply not been definitively proven. But according to the prescribing information available on the website of the manufacturer of Plan B, Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., it can (see for yourself at planbonestep.com). DOES it? That's the subject of the debate. But by claiming dogmatically that Plan B "does not stop implantation" and "does not cause abortion," the video misleads viewers into thinking that the matter has been settled.
Genetically speaking, human life DOES begin at conception/fertilization, when the parents' chromosomes combine. While there is fierce debate about whether or not conception or implantation marks the beginning of a "pregnancy," the being that implants in the uterine lining several days after fertilization is 100% human, and 100% discrete from the mother and father (though entirely dependent on the mother for survival).
If EC does inhibit ovulation, there are massive moral implications for the person that values human life from the moment it began, conception. By using EC, the mother may be responsible for causing that new life (if ovulation and fertilization do occur) to pass through the uterus and out of the body. (However, If that early life fails to implant naturally, the moral responsibility for its loss does not rest with the mother, even if the outcome is the same.) The user will never know which of the three actions has occurred.
If Plan B's mechanism of action in which implantation is prevented can be definitively excluded from possibility, then it can at that point be considered non-abortifacient (non-abortion-causing). Until that point, however, it is at minimum POTENTIALLY abortifacient. Whether or not that distinction matters to a woman considering its use, fine. But an individual's (even a physician's) opinion should not have a bearing on the disclosure of information to patients. And such a morally significant detail such as this should not be written in impenetrable language and buried in the prescribing information.
There are millions of people who would (and do) consider EC's possible abortifacient effects as morally unacceptable, and they should at least be given enough information to make an informed decision about its use.