Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced that seventeen year olds will be able to get the Plan B emergency contraception over the counter.
Certainly a step forward! Personally, I'd like to see the age limit brought down to sixteen, and having Plan B as a fully-funded option for all victims of rape everywhere.
And I can hear the leaders of America's Religious Right screaming about teenagers getting access to an "abortion drug". So, let's set the record on that:
1) It takes three days for sperm to travel through the cervix, up the uterus and into the fallopian tubes to fertilize an ova.
2) Plan B can only work during those three days.
3) Ergo, Plan B is contraception -- it prevents pregnancy.
Of course, I don't expect everyone who is against abortion to have this "V-8 moment", smacking their foreheads and saying: "Wow, we made a big mistake here!" It's no secret that so many on the Right have bundled abortion, birth control and sex education into one big nasty evil.
Forget about women who are raped. Or teens living with abusive parents, with good reason to be afraid of disclosing that they might become pregnant. Or women who were responsible enough to have their partners use a condom, only to have it break or slip off.
I recall conversations with an evangelical minister who is staunchly anti-abortion, when he used to live in the Boston area (he's since moved to Connecticut). I'd always pose the question of contraception -- why not support it, since it can prevent unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduce the number of abortions? His response, every time: "Well, many forms of contraception lead to abortion." And nothing else -- no elabortation, no examples of how this supposedly happens, no statement in favor of any which don't lead to abortion. Just a sufficiently vague reason why he won't break with the party line of the Religious Right.
Well, that only begs the question. Sure, you can argue that IUD's, for example, "lead to abortion" by preventing implantation and thus causing a zygote to be expelled and die. But condoms, spermicide, diaphragms, cervical caps -- all they do is block sperm from getting to the egg. No sperm in egg, no conception, no dead zygote. So why lump it in with abortion? And if Plan B accomplishes the same thing -- preventing sperm and egg from getting together -- then why keep calling it abortion?
These are the questions we need to be raising with the Religious Right. Plan B is not abortion, but in fact will reduce the number of abortions, as will condoms and other forms of contraception. So where is their justification in opposing them?