A story in today’s New York Times suggests Republican anger over morning-after pills is misplaced, because of misconceptions about what they do.
Pills like Plan B, Pam Belluck says, don’t stop fertilized eggs from attaching themselves to a woman’s uterus; instead, they delay ovulation, thus preventing eggs from interacting with sperm at all, or they thicken cervical mucus, preventing sperm from making their way toward the eggs.
The distinction is crucial because of accusations levied against emergency contraceptives in the past: Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has referred to at least one of them, Ella, as a thinly-veiled attempt to get an abortion drug over-the-counter” in the past.
Four months ago, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney referred to them as “abortive pills, and other conservatives had attacked the pills under the belief that stopping eggs from grabbing onto the uterus constituted abortion.
According to the Times, the Food and Drug Administration did not say whether it planned to reclassify Plan B and other pills based on the study, but spokeswoman Erica Jefferson did concede that “the emerging data on Plan B suggest that it does not inhibit implantation. Less is known about Ella. However, some data suggest it also does not inhibit implantation.”