March 16, 2008

Snowflakes, Conscience and Contraception

You learn some interesting things when you're a pharmacy technician having to take 20 credits of Continuing Education every two years to maintain your certification. The last CE I had to take, which I finished today, was entitled: "Emergency Contraception: A Guide to Over-the-Counter Availability."

Here are THE FACTS about emergency contraception, folks. (Quoted from the CE. There are 29 references/studies to back this up, and I will be happy to provide the entire list on request.)

"Oral emergency contraceptives, somtimes referred to as the 'morning after pill,' use the same hormones found in birth control pills to prevent pregnancy after intercourse. Plan B is a safe and effective produce for preventing pregnancy when a contraceptive method has failed or was not used during intercourse. In the US, approximately one-half of all pregnancies occurring each year are unintended and more than 50% of these pregnancies are terminated by elective abortion. When taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, Plan B reduces the risk of pregnancy by 89%. It has been estimated that the use of emergency contraception could reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy in the US by as much as 50%."

In other words, less unintended pregnancy = less abortions. This seems like such an obvious statement, I can't imagine why anyone would have trouble comprehending it. Unless you're some religious nut who's hard-wired into the ridiculous and woman-shaming mentality of "damned sluts need to keep their legs closed." (Notice that these people never explore the possibility of buying chastity belts for men. The way they talk, and the absence of any mention of the male, you would think all these pregnancies are in fact immaculate conceptions.)

Look, if you're genuinely into abstince and/or celibacy, more power to you. However, the fact of the matter is that people do have sex, either before marriage or (hopefully) after. Whether you think that's right or wrong doesn't matter--that's what's happening in the real world. If you really want to reduce the abortion rate (and not just slut-shame) you gotta increase contraceptive use. Period.

The mechanism of emergency contraception is as follows.

"Levonorgestral, the only active ingredient in Plan B, is a common progestin found in a variety of hormonal contraceptives. The mechanisms by which Plan B prevents pregnancy are thought to be similar to those of other hormonal contraceptives. All currently available hormonal methods of contraception have been shown to act by the following mechanisms: altering the endometrial lining, altering the cervical mucous, interfering with fertilization or transport of an egg, or preventing implantation. There is good evidence that Plan B prevents or delays ovulation as a primary mechanism of action; however, the product works when taken throughout the menstrual cycle, which means that additional mechanisms may be involved. The contraceptive activity of Plan B can be fully explained by mechanisms of action that do not involve postfertilization effects.

"Studies of Plan B's effects on endometrial function have not shown changes that would prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum. Women who have used Plan B to prevent a pregnancy early in their menstrual cycle are at risk for pregnancy later in the same cycle if contraception is not used or fails again. This indicated that the endometrium is still intact and capable of implanting a fertilized ovum.

"Plan B does not cause abortion or interfere with an established pregnancy. If Plan B is inadvertently taken by women who are pregnant, the pregnancies will not be affected."

So any pharmacist who refuses to dispense Plan B (or regular birth control pills, for that matter) using the excuse that it'll abort the poor little snowflake is quite simply a douchebag who doesn't have a scientific leg to stand on. They must hate women an awful lot to condemn them to reproductive slavery, all to salve the pharmacist's distorted little conscience. But in their pathetic world, it's easy to ignore the fact that more unintended pregnancies = more abortions; therefore, pharmacists who pull these stunts have a fifty-fifty chance of causing the little snowflake's death, all because they refused to do their frakking jobs.

There's also a nice chart showing how regular birth-control pills can be substituted for Plan B in a pinch, thus underscoring that it's no more than ramped-up oral contraception. For instance, 10 Alesse tablets, taken in two doses twelve hours apart, will do the same thing (with slightly less effectiveness). Ditto eight Triphasil tablets. I think this list should be available at every doctor's office and women's clinic in the country, since it neatly bypasses the twisted consciences of some tyrannical pharmacists.

To sum up: "Emergency contraception is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancy." If this is what people truly want to do--you don't have to worry about aborting the snowflake if it never existed, after all--they should get off their high horse and get with the program.


Free-flowing Florida said...

am so with u on this! u couldn't have put it better

Crescendo said...

Thank you for this post. I consider myself a pro-life, Christian feminist, and I frowned on Plan B because I believed that it would stop a fertilized egg from implanting. After reading this I am relieved that it doesn't do that! I had been misinformed. And I have come around to your way of thinking. So thank you.

Bonnie said...

Thanks, everybody. I appreciate your comments.