September 15, 2011

One Ella Lot of Confusion

Over at RH Reality Check Jodi Jacobson tries to take Michelle Bachman to task for supposed exaggerations about contraception causing abortions. After claiming that talking to “anti-choicers” about the distinction between contraception and abortion is like arguing with a two-year-old (I suppose name-calling is a tactic reserved for five-year-olds and pro-choice bloggers) Jacobson goes on to say:
"In the GOP-Tea Party debate Monday night, co-hosted by CNN, Michele Bachmann repeated the falsehood once again that emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill," causes abortion and that by including contraceptives under health reform without a co-pay, the Obama Administration was forcing people to pay for abortion.
What the Obama Administration did was to include contraception under health reform without a co-pay, because it is an essential form of primary preventive care for women and because among other things, the use of contraception to space and limit births also contributes to dramatic improvements of infant and child health in planned pregnancies.
And what the morning after pill does not do is to cause abortion, because it prevents pregnancy and by definition you can't have an abortion if you are not pregnant."
The whole disagreement comes from defining pregnancy as the moment when an embryo implants in the mother’s body (usually in the uterus). 

It also stems from defining abortion as the termination of a pregnancy. Therefore, Jacobson and her cohorts get a loophole in that if a drug kills a human embryo prior to implantation, then it is technically not causing an “abortion.” Well, it still kills a small human being I find that more than a bit troubling to say the least.
The question of whether or not contraceptives interfere with implantation is a technical one I won’t discuss here. But I will say that it is simply false that the emergency contraception covered under the Obama plan never cause abortions, or the "termination of an embryo after it has implanted."
The FDA currently considers ulipristal acetate, more commonly known as Ella, to be emergency contraception. The manufacturers of Ella claim the drug is able to prevent pregnancy even if taken up to five days after intercourse. But Ella is a progesterone inhibitor and the only other drug that operates in that way on the market is RU-486, or the abortion pill. Even the FDA admits in animal studies (see section 8.1) that Ella causes “embryofetal loss.” So the overarching claim that no abortifacient is covered under the mandatory contraception plan is definitely false.

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