No one can deny that emergency contraception is becoming an increasingly important issue with each passing day. The division between those who support emergency contraception and those who do not conspicuously resembles the division between party lines.
The most current issue involving emergency contraception has proponents of Plan B pushing the Federal Drug Administration to enable the drug to be dispensed without a prescription. Eventually, every state will have to address the issue and decide whether to limit or expand access to the drug.
Those who oppose the drug cite the same traditions and cultural beliefs used to oppose abortion. But Plan B should not be viewed as a so-called happy medium between abortion and birth control. Plan B is birth control.
Many who oppose Plan B do not realize that the drug doesn't cause abortions. It prevents an egg from being fertilized. Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation or fertilization, according to www.plannedparenthood.org. The drug also has the potential to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself onto the uterus. None of these effects of emergency contraception are considered abortion.
For the sake of time and space, I'm going to focus my thoughts about Plan B on the group of women who in my opinion need it the most. I'm talking about sexual assault victims.
I presume that the readers of the Collegian are somewhat educated, so we are all aware of the emotional and physical effects of rape. People who deny the importance of sexual victims' rights to privacy and protection are kidding themselves.
If you've been sexually assaulted, there are plenty of worries on your mind. In addition to all of the shame and embarrassment a woman may feel, she also has to worry about the possibility of becoming pregnant.
Pregnancy is a life experience that physically and emotionally changes a woman. If the pregnancy occurs in ideal circumstances, then we would assume that these changes are typically positive and enjoyable.
If a woman is raped, she may become pregnant. If a man is willing to sink low enough to violate a women's body, then he probably isn't going to bother with using protection. The father of the woman's baby is a rapist. Shouldn't we, as a society, permit the woman to explore options (not involving abortion) that may prevent an unwanted pregnancy?
This is where Plan B steps in. Plan B can offer the woman a viable and safe option. By safe, I mean that the side effects of a pill are relatively minimal, including headache and nausea.
The physical and emotional effects of carrying and giving birth to an unwanted pregnancy, or even having an abortion, are a much higher price to pay. Women who give birth to unwanted children experience adverse effects. Giving birth to a child conceived out of rape would affect the quality of the woman's relationship with future children and family members. The consequences would be life-long.
Some states wish to take away the option of Plan B altogether. Others want to severely limit access to Plan B, allowing some pharmacies to choose not to stock the drug or not dispense it, even to women with valid prescriptions.
If legislation such as the above were established, it would severely limit the options of women who need to use Plan B, regardless if they were rape victims or not. Emergency Contraception only works up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. The more difficult it is for women to get obtain Plan B, the higher the chance for an unwanted pregnancy.
The harms of an unwanted pregnancy far outweigh the alleged losses of using emergency contraception. What doesn't society have to gain by expanding women's rights and protections?
It would not be in our nation's best interest to outlaw emergency contraception. Whatever your personal and religious opinions regarding birth control are, you should remember that our country is not run according to the needs and wants of you or your religion. Our country is run for the good of all.
Megan Schulz is a sophomore technical journalism major. Her column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.