Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dispelling Another Anti-Choice Myth

The returns suggest that Mississippi's voters are rejecting a proposed amendment to their state constitution, which would have declared that fertilized human ova are legally people.

I'm happy and relieved, and not just because it takes one more weapon away from those who would deny women's reproductive rights. It's simply absurd to reduce human personhood to our genetics. Many folks may not be aware that, between the world wars, there was an active eugenics movement in the United States. Some states even passed laws barring certain people from getting married, including epileptics. Yup, had my father lived in Connecticut instead of New York, he might not have been able to marry my mom.

But, that's not the real reason for this post. During the comments on this "zygotic personhood" amendment, several people kept commenting that it would not only ban abortion, but certain forms of contraception, including "morning-after pill."

In short, pro-choice people have been buying into the anti-choicers lie that this form of emergency contraception is a form of abortion.

So here we go, folks -- two basic facts. You can check them yourself...

FACT NUMBER ONE: Emergency contraception only works within 72 hours of intercourse.

FACT NUMBER TWO: The time it takes for sperm to travel from the vagina to the fallopian tubes is 72 hours.

Do the math.

Now, I don't know whether the anti-choice crowd are ignorant of these facts, or they are wilfully misleading people. I don't care. The point is these are people who are willing to say and do anything to deny a woman this option, regardless of whether the reason she's seeking it is a broken condom or a brutal rape.

And to my fellow pro-choicers ... please let's not fall prey to this. We can and should do better. Please let's do our homework, and let's not be afraid to expose how they mislead and frighten people to get what they want -- and to deny others their right to decide for themselves.


  1. Desmond - I would question your 72 hour figure based on what's available on the WebMD health education site:

    "An average ejaculate discharges 40-150 million sperm which eagerly swim upstream toward the fallopian tubes on their mission to fertilize an egg. Fast-swimming sperm can reach the egg in a half an hour, while others may take days. The sperm can live up to 48-72 hours. Only a few hundred will even come close to the egg, due to the many natural barriers and hurdles that exist in the female reproductive tract."
    Source - http://www.webmd.com/baby/ss/slideshow-conception
    See slide #4 in the web presentation

    Some sperm take 72 hours to reach the fallopian tubes and some get there in less than 1 hour.

    The 72 hour figure comes from the fact that sperm can live up 72 hours after ejaculation.

    Based on the information on the Columbia University web site, it's a low-probability but not zero-probability that EC could prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum in a few instances. Prevention of implantation is also true for the Copper T IUD in some instances.


  2. Steve, thanks for the correction on this.

    Still, the mechanism behind the morning-after pill is to disrupt ovulation and fertilization, and it's unlikely to interfere with implantation.

    That may also explain why its effectiveness is 75-89 percent -- that it's not so effective once fertilization has occurred.