Plan B (the B stands for BS)

Here is an excerpt from an editorial from our local Philadelphia Inquirer:

If emergency contraception is taken within 24 hours after the assault, there is a 95 percent chance that a pregnancy will not occur. A victim of rape – or incest – should be able to make the choice of how to react to a vicious crime against her.

Plan B is not new, and it’s not abortion. It contains a higher dose of the hormone levonorgestrel than is found in birth control pills. That higher dose can prevent pregnancy, primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary.

Emergency contraception is not aimed at ending a pregnancy, as some abortion opponents imply. There is zero peer-reviewed research showing that it affects a fertilized egg.

Still, State Rep. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) said changes were made in his bill to address the concerns of hospitals with religious affiliations that are uncomfortable with giving the emergency dose.

Hospitals could contract with a third-party to give the pill to a woman. They could administer a pregnancy test. If the test were positive, Plan B wouldn’t work anyhow, so why bother to give it?

Those are extremely reasonable allowances that reflect an earnest attempt by the bill’s supporters to make the legislation as fair as possible and to give a sound basis to any regulations crafted by the state Health Department.

I bring this up because it is a prime example of how you can manipulate language to try to bring about a desired end. Let’s take the above-bolded section in order.

1) “That higher dose can prevent pregnancy, primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary.” The word “primarily” here is in question. Unfortunately, the author never takes the time to mention what the secondary mechanisms are. I’m embarassed to say that I don’t know the answer. Partly because I do not trust either side of the debate to actually tell me the facts. Is the secondary mechanism one of preventing implantation of an embryo?

2) “There is zero peer-reviewed research showing that it affects a fertilized egg.” I do not know the accuracy of this statement, but either way, it misses the point. Is there any peer-reviewed research showing that “it affects” the uterine lining, thereby preventing implantation of an embryo?

3) “If the test were positive, Plan B wouldn’t work anyhow, so why bother to give it?” “If the test were positive”, it would seem that an embryo would have already implanted in the lining of the uterus, most likely for a few days. It is a wonderful thing that Plan B does not affect an already implanted embryo. But this (again) completely avoids the question of whether Plan B can somehow prevent the implantation of an embryo. Well, does it?

If one were not to read that exerpt critically, one would walk away feeling like the question of whether Plan B causes abortions had been answered. And for those who, apparently like the author, define pregnancy as commencing at implantation, maybe the question has been answered in the negative. But for others who view abortion not as the ending of a pregnancy, but the ending of a life, a life that has already begun before implantation, the question most certainly has not been answered. One almost gets the impression that the author actually had to choose his or her words very carefully to craft this delightful piece of propaganda.

Edit:
The first website I visited after googling “Plan B uterine” states that Plan B “may” inhibit the implantation of an embryo. This seems to mean that under certain circumstances, it will. Thus it will sometimes act as an abortifacient. Thus I conclude that the author of the propaganda piece is misleading people, either willingly or not. And for those counting, this is the second Plan B puff-piece the Inquirer has run of late, that I have seen. I am still holding my breath for a puff-piece of the opposing view.

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~ by Rob on October 11, 2007.

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