Mar 262009
Authors: Lauren Salz Columbia Daily Spectator

(U-WIRE) – One night, a student has unprotected sex. Panicked and worried about pregnancy, she rushes to the pharmacy to get Plan B. Without thinking twice, she takes the emergency “contraceptive.” After all, it’s not an abortion.

I surveyed my friends to see what they would do in the case of an emergency. “I would take the morning after pill,” was the nearly unanimous response. When they were asked if they would have an abortion in the case of an accidental pregnancy, the general response was, “I don’t know. I’d have to think about it.”

Clearly, most of these students do not think that Plan B can end a pregnancy. And you can’t blame them, considering where their medical information is coming from and the misnomer of emergency “contraception.”

Let’s Go Ask Alice (Columbia University’s Health Services Q and A site).

In a post titled “Morning after pill,” Alice writes:

“Also known as emergency contraception, the ‘morning after pill’ is a high dose of birth control pills taken within 120 hours (or five days) after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy. … Emergency contraception (EC) is not to be confused with RU-486 (mifepristone), a pill that causes medical/chemical abortion in pregnant women within 49 days from the first day of their last menstrual period.”

So, there are no moral questions about taking Plan B? It is simply contraception, a way to prevent pregnancy? Not an abortion? From our friend Alice:

“If your friend had unprotected sex within the last few days, she may want to consider the morning after pill (also called Plan B). … The morning after pill is not an abortion since this pill works to prevent pregnancy from occurring at all.”

But what is the mechanism that causes this miracle pill to work? According to the Food and Drug Administration and the makers of Plan B themselves, not only can Plan B work “like a birth control pill to prevent pregnancy mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. … It is possible that Plan B may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb), which usually occurs beginning 7 days after release of an egg from the ovary.”

So in short, it is possible that taking Plan B will cause a woman’s body to reject an already fertilized egg. That sounds like ending a pregnancy to me.

However, according to the FDA and the maker of Plan B, “Plan B will not do anything to a fertilized egg already attached to the uterus. The pregnancy will continue.”

It seems that their definition of pregnancy is implantation of the embryo onto the uterus. But this is misleading. Destroying an embryo, even prior to implantation in the womb, has serious moral implications.

Prior to conception, a sperm and an egg are part of the parents. A sperm or an egg is missing half of the genetic parts necessary to be an independent member of the Homo Sapiens species. Once combined, however, the sperm and the egg become a new organism.

Unaffected by outside forces such as an abortion or Plan B, a human embryo will likely follow its genetic programming to become a fully functioning adult. Embryos already have the same DNA they will have throughout their entire lives. So Plan B possibly destroys a member of our species that might already have a preference for savory or sweet, have an aptitude for athletics or enough talent to be the next American Idol.

The consequences of taking Plan B are possibly as dire as the consequences of having an abortion. The difference is that when taking Plan B, a woman doesn’t know yet if an embryo has been formed. But the possibilities are the same: the destruction of a vulnerable member of our species for the sake of convenience of a bigger member of our species.

An unplanned pregnancy during college certainly has a disruptive effect on a student’s life, but it is not life-ending. Please, think twice before you possibly end a life.

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