Plan B is Not Abortifacient

As any regular reader of this blog is well aware, I’m strongly pro-life. However, I’m ticked off at my own movement right now because of crap like this [emphasis mine]:

"President George Bush shocked the pro-life movement with his support for over-the-counter access to abortion-drug Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, for adults. However, Plan B ‘ought to require a prescription for minors,’ he said.

[…]

"’President Bush’s implied support of over-the-counter status for the abortion-causing drug Plan B is a betrayal of the pro-life principles he claims to support,’ said Stephen Peroutka, Esq., chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center."

Let’s get with the program, people. Plan B is not abortifacient. Repeating "abortion" and "Plan B" in the same sentence over and over won’t make it so. As a devout Catholic, I’m no more a fan of Plan B than I am of condoms (or any other form of contraception), but since neither kill unborn children, there’s no just reason for banning them. Unless someone can provide evidence that Plan B causes abortions, I suggest we stop saying it does and move on to other matters. This is a poltical albatross.

[cross-posted at RedBlueChristian]

Update: Apparently, someone at Netscape.com saw fit to link to me as one of the "pro-life advocates [who] acknowledge that use of Plan B is not akin to abortion". I’m flattered by the publicity, but I really hope the inane and fruitless "conversation" going on in the comments over there doesn’t come here. I haven’t read such consistently belligerent and vapid comments since the last time I stopped by Eschaton. I don’t always agree with my readers, but I’m almost always appreciative of them and their ability to discuss matters reasonably and intelligently in the comboxes.

Update: Let Publius know whether you think I’m a "[d]ebunker of [a] commonly-held misconception or [an] advocate of netkookery".

Addendum: Serge at LTI Blog has begun a series of posts about Plan B.

  1. Emergency Contraception: A Review of the Literature
  2. Information from the Manufacturer
  3. Proposed Evidence of Post-Fertilization Effects
  4. Does it Work if Taken After Ovulation?
  5. No Morphological Changes Found in Endometrium
  6. EC: What is its Real Effectiveness?
This entry was posted in essays, editorials, fisks, and rants, government, law, and politics, science and technology and tagged , , , , , , , , on by .

About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

38 thoughts on “Plan B is Not Abortifacient

  1. Pingback: LTI Blog

  2. Pingback: Absolutely No Spin

  3. Pingback: RedBlueChristian » Blog Archive » Plan B is Not Abortifacient

  4. lauren

    While technically not abortificiant because it doesn’t end a “pregnancy”, it can indeed cause the death of a created individual by disallowing implantation.

    The studies that claim this is not possible do not take into account that planned parenthood instructs you to take both pills together which does prevent implantation.

    If you believe that a new person begins at conception, Plan B is indeed a concern.

  5. Funky Dung

    “…it can indeed cause the death of a created individual by disallowing implantation.”

    I have yet to see any evidence of this.

    “The studies that claim this is not possible do not take into account that planned parenthood instructs you to take both pills together which does prevent implantation.”

    What is the other pill? If it’s the birth control pill, there’s no evidence that it’s abortifacient, either. Do you mean RU-486?

    “If you believe that a new person begins at conception, Plan B is indeed a concern.”

    I do, but I’m not convinced that Plan B impedes implantation.

  6. SUZANNE

    The Catholic definition of abortion is to kill an unborn life. Plan B stops a zygote from implanting, therefore it is abortifacient.

    Btw, the medical community changed the definition of pregnancy precisely for things like this.

  7. Funky Dung

    “The Catholic definition of abortion is to kill an unborn life.”

    This I am aware of.

    “Plan B stops a zygote from implanting, therefore it is abortifacient.”

    Again, where is the evidence that Plan B stops zygotes from implanting? This is an oft-repeated claim, but I’ve never seen/heard/read any scientific justification of it.

  8. SUZANNE

    Plan B contains only progesterone, in contrast with the traditional morning after pill, which is a strong birth control pill containing both estrogen and progesterone. As with other emergency contraception, Plan B is a method available to give women a second chance to prevent a pregnancy after unprotected sex. It will not work if you are already pregnant, in other words it cannot interrupt a pregnancy or cause an abortion. An emergency contraceptive (EC) is not a substitute for regular contraception. Plan B may prevent pregnancy by temporarily stopping the release of an egg from a woman’s ovary, or by preventing fertilization. It may also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

    http://www.uottawa.ca/health/information/contraception-planb.html

  9. Funky Dung

    I’ve read that and addressed it elsewhere. A warning label does not a scientific argument make. “It may also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus” is a testable hypothesis, and, from what I’ve seen, it’s been tested and refuted. IMHO, the warning only remains as protection from litigious folks. It may also have been required by the FDA at the time of approval because not all of the drug’s means of action where known. They seem to be known now, and stopping implantation does not seem to be one of them.

  10. Funky Dung

    “From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother, it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.” -Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Declaration on Procured Abortion

    I do not and would not dispute this.

    “Plan B® may also work by preventing it from attaching to the uterus (womb).” -DuraMed website

    Folks, you can quote the manufacturer’s insert until the cows come home, but as I’ve already explained, you will not have proved your point. If there is good scientific reason to believe that Plan B impedes implantation, I’d love to hear it.

    Read this, come back, and argue on scientific grounds. I’ll be waiting.

    If the pro-life movement refuses to argue based on evidence gathered from sound research, we will all look like rubes to those we wish to convince. Arguing from ignorance is no way to further the culture of life.

  11. Tom Smith

    You say you’ve never seen a convincing argument that Plan B is abortifacient. Have you seen a convincing argument that it universally is not?

    I’m being presumptuous here, but I would guess not. If that’s indeed the case, then I can only conclude that you’re fishing for disagreeable comments with a title as loud as “Plan B is Not Abortifacient,” seeing as how you really can’t say with certainty that it is not an abortifacient.

    Simply because you have not seen evidence that it is abortifacient does not mean that it isn’t.

  12. Tom Smith

    Following up, I didn’t mean to sound too harsh in the above comment. I agree that people need to acknowledge the burden of proof on the abortifacient status of Plan B.

    (As an aside, is anyone else struck by how UTTERLY stupid the name “Plan B” is? They may as well have called them Acme-brand “Oops! FUBAR” pills.)

  13. DJ

    Let’s say that we don’t know if Plan B is an abortificiant. Wouldn’t you rather err on the side of life than tell everyone that Plan B doesn’t cause abortions and be wrong?

  14. Extract

    Folks, you can quote the manufacturer’s insert until the cows come home, but as I’ve already explained, you will not have proved your point. If there is good scientific reason to believe that Plan B impedes implantation, I’d love to hear it.

    The manufacturer makes that claim, though. Are you suggesting they don’t have the scientific evidence to support their view that it may impede implantation?

    From my understanding, if a fertilized egg gets flushed because it can’t become implanted, then it is an abortion. If PlanB impedes implantation, it causes the abortion.

  15. Funky Dung

    Simply because you have not seen evidence that it is abortifacient does not mean that it isn’t.

    Basic premise of science and the philosophy thereof: a negative cannot be proven. The burden of proof is on those who propose the positive. If I believe that smoking causes cancer, the burden is on me to perform or cite research that supports my claim.

    Let’s say that we don’t know if Plan B is an abortificiant. Wouldn’t you rather err on the side of life than tell everyone that Plan B doesn’t cause abortions and be wrong?

    Sure, and while I’m at it I can tell folks that grape lollipops cause mouth cancer and should be avoided.

    The manufacturer makes that claim, though. Are you suggesting they don’t have the scientific evidence to support their view that it may impede implantation?

    I’m saying there may be non-scientific reasons for the claim.

    From my understanding, if a fertilized egg gets flushed because it can’t become implanted, then it is an abortion. If PlanB impedes implantation, it causes the abortion.

    Yes. I agree. IF. That link has not been demonstrated to my satisfaction.

  16. Lightwave

    Tom and DJ, I have to weigh in here for:

    You say you’ve never seen a convincing argument that Plan B is abortifacient.Have you seen a convincing argument that it universally is not?".

    Funky presents thorough research in his article. (Please read it). Frankly, I have to say if something has been thoroughly researched to determine it does not exist, I’m much more likely to believe it than everything else in the world that has not been researched.

    That is to say, with the research in hand, I am certainly more convinced that Plan B is not an abortifacient, than say, aloe as absorbed through the skin is an abortifacient (which has never been researched, most likely for intuitive reasons).

    The thing is, it is really difficult to prove that something doesn’t exist. For example, let’s say we wanted to prove unicorns exist. That’s pretty easy…we find one. On the other hand, let’s say we want to prove that unicorns don’t exist. That’s pretty hard….we have to observe every location in the universe they could possibly be, all at the same exact moment in time. Only then would we know for certain they don’t exist. (Someone else made this analogy once, but I’m afraid I can’t remember where to give credit). On the other hand, it is generally accepted that they simply do not exist. Why is this? Well, we simply have better proof of their lack of existence than most other things.

    So from that aspect, I think we know with more certainty than any we will find that Plan B *is not* an abortifacient and does not prevent implantation. At least, we know it better than we know for the large majority of substances that we consider non-abortifacient. I guess that would make Plan B one of the safest materials we know of (at least from a non-abortifacient perspective). Wouldn’t that mean using Plan be errs on the side of caution more than ingesting most of the materials we take for granted?

    Extract, I think Funky explained that the manufacturer does indeed lack the scientific evidence. Indeed, all I’ve been able to find is that at the time, there was no conclusive evidence. There now is evidence that it is not an abortifacient, no fertilization, and no egg. When there is an egg, it doesn’t get “flushed”, it just does what it would normally do, according to this research.

  17. DJ

    The post doesn’t address the scientific evidence of DuraMed and disprove their results. They say that it prevents implantaion, but you say they are wrong eventhough you do not address their specific studies.

  18. Ian

    From your article on the topic: “Can I say definitively that Plan B does not interfere with implantation? No.”

    In that case, the Catholic Church would say you err on the side of caution.

  19. A different Lauren

    Let me preface this by saying I am PRO-CHOICE. Not pro-abortion, PRO-CHOICE.

    Thank God a pro-lifer is finally making an intelligent argument (Funky Dung). I am glad that most (if not all) agree that Plan B is not an abortifacient. The bottom line is that it will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. I do worry though about health consequences to young girls who may be using the drug repeatedly or incorrectly and I agree with some arguments regarding this issue that have been made. I hope people can see the benefits of this pill. If it prevents even one teen from becoming pregnant, and not seeking an abortion then I think its an extremely important pill.

  20. Lightwave

    Ian,

    In response to

    I guess WebMD is making stuff up…

    Sarcasm aside, this statement may essentially be correct. WebMD cites other news sources, not research. The orignial post we’re all discussing is about how news sources are often incorrect on this subject.

    In that case, the Catholic Church would say you err on the side of caution

    I think I addressed that in my previous comment, give it a read.

  21. Tom Smith

    “‘Simply because you have not seen evidence that it is abortifacient does not mean that it isn’t.’

    Basic premise of science and the philosophy thereof: a [universal] negative cannot be proven. The burden of proof is on those who propose the positive.”

    Yes, I’m quite aware, as my second post states. However, with the headline “Plan B is Not Abortifacient,” you give the impression not only that this universal negative can be proven, but that you already have, which, as you have noted, is impossible.

    “As a devout Catholic, I’m no more a fan of Plan B than I am of condoms (or any other form of contraception), but since neither kill unborn children, there’s no just reason for banning them.”

    Perhaps that they are contrary to God’s will? Is that not justification enough?

  22. Tom Smith

    “The thing is, it is really difficult to prove that something doesn’t exist.”

    I’m well aware; my point is that simply saying “well its unposible to prove a negative tom!!!1” does not justify categorically ruling out its existence. No one has proven that unicorns don’t exist, for example. It is also not proven that I am not invisible when people aren’t looking. Similarly, no one has demonstrated that unwatched trees falling in forests make noise. Simply because such things are unproven does not mean that they are true or false; they are simply unproven, which is why arguing as though they are proven is not only philosophically untenable, it is dishonest. The bottom line is that I’m not arguing that Plan B is an abortifacient; I’m simply pointing out that nothing is proven.

    “. . . On the other hand, it is generally accepted that they simply do not exist. Why is this? Well, we simply have better proof of their lack of existence than most other things.”

    I think you’ve contradicted yourself — you say that a universal negative cannot be proven at this time, then say that there is “better proof” of something’s non-existence.

    “There now is evidence that it is not an abortifacient. . . ”

    You may see this as slicing the matter quite thin, but the link contains no evidence that Plan B is not an abortifacient. It merely demonstrates that there is no known evidence that it is, indeed, an abortifacient. (NB: I only very briefly skimmed the link, so I may have missed something you didn’t.)

    One more thing: While it may be the opinion of most here that Plan B does not cause abortions, the fact that the manufacturer sees fit to label its product with a warning stating that it *may* cause abortions indicates, to me anyway, that the manufacturer considers the matter an open question.

  23. Lightwave

    Tom,

    I think you’ve contradicted yourself

    I think there’s a pretty strong distinction between “proof” and “general acceptance”. It may be hard to prove something doesn’t exist, but I think general acceptance, is, well, generally accepted. 🙂

    link contains no evidence that Plan B is not an abortifacient

    No, again, such conclusive evidince does not exist for anything, hence my unicorn example. It just provides better information than we have for almost every substance we know of on earth. Hence we can say, with better confideidence than just about every other substance on earth, that we know this substance is safe in this regard.

    the manufacturer sees fit to label its product with a warning stating that it *may* cause abortions indicates, to me anyway, that the manufacturer considers the matter an open question

    I think a more acurate analysis would be that the manufacturer thinks others believe it is an open question. And since we are having this discussion, they appear to be correct.

  24. John

    The manufacturer’s label is fundamentally concerned with covering the manufacturer’s rear.
    Even though there is no chance that it would prevent implantation, they’re still going to put the warning so nobody sues them. I think the conversation on this thread justifies their concern that a jury could be conned into ruling against them.

    Also, Plan B is a perfectly reasonably name for the product. It is good to stress that it is not intended as your primary birth control method.
    And more importantly, it’s good to have a name that implies “oops”, because it’s a lot kinder to woman seeking the pill to have that be the implication instead of “I was raped”. Even though that’s probably the more honest answer in most cases.

  25. Pingback: JivinJehoshaphat

  26. Tom Smith

    “The manufacturer’s label is fundamentally concerned with covering the manufacturer’s rear.”

    That makes sense.

    “Also, Plan B is a perfectly reasonably name for the product. It is good to stress that it is not intended as your primary birth control method.”

    Right — I understand, but “Plan B” just makes it sound like something out of Loony Toons. I’m sure the pharmaceutical company thought about it for awhile, and perhaps washed the name through a focus group, but I still think it’s kind of goofy.

  27. Pingback: 153

  28. Pingback: Plan B: Preview of Literature Review | Science » Blog Archive » Plan B: Preview of Literature Review

  29. Pingback: Plan B: Literature Review (Part I) | Science » Blog Archive » Plan B: Literature Review (Part I)

  30. Pingback: Plan B: Not Abortifacient But Not a Panacea Either | Science » Blog Archive » Plan B: Not Abortifacient But Not a Panacea Either

  31. Pingback: Morning-after pill to be available without prescription » Netscape.com

  32. Pingback: Catholic hospitals may be forced to do abortions | Spero News

  33. Pingback: Morning-after pill to be available without prescription » Propeller

  34. Euthanize Liberalism

    Are you sure ignoring reality is the best defense?

    “there’s no evidence that it’s abortifacient”

    Except for the evidence that ALL post 1967 chemical “birth” control agents rely on the ‘tertiary’ abortifacient effect in the Physicians Desk Reference and Medline?

    Therefore ALL current chemical female “birth” control agents of the day are POTENTIALLY ABORTIFACIENT.

    Any potential for willful abortifacient is morally reprehensible and unacceptable.

  35. Euthanize Liberalism

    If Plan A, selfishly separating the reproductive function from the pleasure of the sexual act, through (willfully) ignorant use of a potential abortifacient fails prevent conception from continuing

    and if Plan B, outright willful abortifacient fails

    what is plan C?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *