by Kristina Chew
June 7, 2012
A New York Times analysis has found that the morning-after pill—drugs including Plan B One-Step and Ella, which are taken to prevent pregnancy after sex—do so not by keeping fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, but by delaying ovulation. Some pills also thicken cervical mucus so that sperm have difficulty swimming. However, labels on the inside of boxes for the pills say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman’s uterus—descriptions that have led to some religious groups, conservative politicians and others to claim that the pills cause abortion.
Dr. Donna Harrison, director of research for the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Times that using the pills is the “moral equivalent of homicide.”
Although the websites of medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said that emergency contraceptives may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, the New York Times has discovered that such a result is not borne out in scientific studies:
It turns out that the politically charged debate over morning-after pills and abortion, a divisive issue in this election year, is probably rooted in outdated or incorrect scientific guesses about how the pills work.” [my emphasis]
These findings about how emergency contraceptives work would mean that drugs like Plan B One-Step and Ella “would not meet abortion opponents’ definition of abortion-inducing drugs.” In contrast, RU-486 can be called an abortion pill “because it destroys implanted embryos, terminating pregnancies.”