Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blurring the line between contraception and abortion

So this is what we've come to in attempt by the Bishops in the Catholic Church and other conservatives to blur the line between contraception and abortion. Seriously.

Apparently that was the advice given by some folks yesterday at the CPAC conference.

Stop talking about birth control. That was the key message from some of the most prominent leaders of America’s anti-abortion movement, speaking Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. During a talk on how to advance the movement through messaging, an all-female panel discussed the Obama administration’s birth-control-coverage mandate and suggested that the best way to defeat it is by calling it an “abortion mandate.”

And this morning the breaking news is that the American Bishops have rejected President Obama's proposed compromise yesterday. In addition to continuing their call for a complete rescission of the directive requiring contraceptive coverage, they said this:

First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion...Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether.

You see what they did there? They first suggest some contraceptives "may cause abortion" and then say that this directive forces plans to cover abortifacients.

I've used several contraceptives over my lifetime - both for medical reasons and to prevent pregnancy. But for the last few years I've been at that stage in life where they're no longer necessary. So please excuse me if I haven't kept as current as I should have on how some of these alternatives work. The most recent addition to the list of options is what we call Plan B or "the morning after pill" and some people have suggested that it causes an abortion. What I had not taken the time to learn is how Plan B works. So here's a little refresher course.

All brands of the morning-after pill work by keeping a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. The hormone in the morning-after pill also prevents pregnancy by thickening a woman's cervical mucus. The mucus blocks sperm and keeps it from joining with an egg.

The morning-after pill can also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

For comparison purposes, lets take a look at how the birth control pill works.

The hormones in the pill work by keeping a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. The hormones in the pill also prevent pregnancy by thickening a woman’s cervical mucus. The mucus blocks sperm and keeps it from joining with an egg.

The hormones also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

When it comes to how these two alternatives actually work, the ONLY difference is the timing of when they're taken - one before sexual intercourse and one after.

Now I understand that the Catholic Bishops are not likely to make a distinction in how these contraceptives are different from abortion given that they have always maintained their objection to both. But really...the truth is that if Plan B is an abortifacient, so is the pill. And that will come as a BIG surprise to the millions of women who've used it over the years.

I myself an committed to the pro-choice position when it comes to abortion. I understand and support women's right to make that decision EITHER WAY. So I try to be understanding of women who would never make the choice to have an abortion themselves. That's why we fight for choice in that matter.

But seriously folks, this conversation has gone off the rails when people try to make the case that a drug that keeps sperm and egg from ever meeting is the same thing as an abortion.

I can't believe that I feel the need to write this kind of diary at all. But the fact that some people with influence in this country are so hell-bent on taking us back to the dark ages when it comes to women's health is a reality today. So write it I will!


  1. I guess masturbation will now be abortion as well. That keeps sperm and egg from ever meeting too, unless your aim is very good.

    1. LOL - I think you have a point Daddyo!

  2. This is a WAR ON WOMEN plain and simple.

  3. I once did something about Plan B. It was tested on monkeys and found that it delays ovulation but does not prevent implantation of a fertilized ball of cells. IOW, the claim that Plan B is an abortifacient is a bald-faced lie.

    The research in question was done at the Catholic University of Chile.

    1. Thanks for that Dr. Squid.

      I would also question whether preventing the implantation of a fertilized ball of cells is an abortion. But I know that's where some people draw the distinction.

    2. Oh Lord. I knew about that research, but I didn't realize it was at the Catholic University of Chile. That's sort of darkly hilarious.

      Lots more information about Plan B not affecting implantation here:

      I can't really blame people who don't work in this field for thinking that Plan B prevents implantation. The research that established that it doesn't is fairly recent, and before then pretty much everybody, including the manufacturer, assumed that it could. It even says so on the product labeling. Still -- there is new research, and we now know the mechanism of action, and people need to be better informed.

  4. I've heard the word abortifacients used more in the last week than I have in the previous 6 decades. It must be from the talking points by the bishops. While I know it has a medical definition, at this point I'm hearing it as a dogwhistle.

    1. Me too on the use of that word lately nellcote.

      And you're absolutely right - big time dogwhistle.

  5. So what else is new?

    Go back to the '50s children. The racists continually doubled down on their attempts to control the populace enough to stay in power:

    Contraception -- white women were denied access to contraception thoughout the south. Black women were forcibly sterilized.

    Black Market Babies: Across the South (apparently particularly Georgia) social intransigence allowed/encouraged the theft of children for illegal adoptions. Stealing newborns with a death certificate, corrupt judges taking children from poor, non-represented parents and so forth. It was surreptitiously allowed in an attempt to slow down the coming upheaval in a burgeoning underclass.

    Abortion: Anti-Abortion was an openly racists statement and a Liberal statement. The original laws were advanced on 2 fronts: current methods lead often to death, and the decrease in the white birth rate was leading to race suicide. Abortionists were rarely caught, and more rarely prosecuted.

    Miscegenation: ALL southern states had anti-miscegenation laws that were strictly enforced. During the 50's the enforcement was ratcheted up because at least 12 non-southern states anulled their miscegenation laws. The end was in sight.

    When the powers that be see that they will soon not be the powers that be, they strike back by becoming more of whatever they were. This conflating of abortion and contraception is not about contraception. It is about using abortion to maintain social power. They are losing. And they know it.

    When the Powers that Be begin to see clearly that the current social makeup is drastically changing they attempt to concentrate more power on preventing that change. But Gay Rights are still moving forward. DADT is no longer the law ... and won't come back.

    Be of good cheer, grasshopper. This too shall pass.

    1. Thanks DerFarm!

      I agree totally with this:

      They are losing. And they know it.

  6. Hi There,
    I am 73 yrs old and I feel like back to being 17, living in the south. My g/g/mother was from Africa and knew about the herbs that could cause abortion. She had a small plot behind the smokehouse. Every so often when I was visiting a mother or the girl herself would come to get the mixture. The bark of some plants, the leaves of some and the roots of some had to be crushed and boiled for a long time.

    If the Bishops have their way, that is where we are going. It is madness to think that these old white men in red capes could ever know ANYTHING about women's health. I wish we could get them out of our uterus, our sex life and our bedroom. There is no acknowledgement of all the other medical conditions being treated with contraception.

    I am so excited that the President said in no uncertain terms that women's health will come first!

  7. Condoms are cheaper and more effective than birth control medication. There is no need for a federal mandate on birth control when everyone can get cheap, effective contraceptives from any reliable drugstore.

    1. Condoms are cheaper, but it is not true that they are more effective. Oral contraceptives have higher rates of effectiveness, and long-term devices such as the IUD have virtually 100% effectiveness.

      There are several advantages to other forms of birth control that condoms lack:

      1) Many women use BC for conditions other than pregnancy prevention (ovarian cysts, irregular periods, etc.);

      2) BC doesn't rely on having to have to be immediately available just before sex, unlike the condom;

      3) BC puts prevention in the hands of the woman, which is necessary for women whose partners refuse to use condoms, as well as for women who are victims of rape/sexual assault.

      4) I'll get personal here: my husband is a diabetic who sometimes suffers from erectile dysfunction. Stopping foreplay to apply a condom often results in loss of his erection. So for us as a *married couple* to have sex at all means that condoms are out.

    2. Thanks Monala. I appreciate your taking that one on. When I saw it it just seemed so ridiculous I didn't know where to start. You did a GREAT job!