Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Things may not go as planned

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Progress for the Pro-Life cause may have been dealt its most crippling blow so far with last week's unexpected decision by the FDA to approve the drug Levonorgestrel in a high-dose form called Plan B®. It has been common knowledge for some time that a high dose of hormonal birth control pills taken after sexual intercourse can prevent or stop pregnancy. However, this is the first time such a drug has been marketed as such--hence the name "Plan B."

The maufacturer puts a high dose of spin in its description of how the drug works. The website states:
Plan B® works like a regular birth control pill. It prevents pregnancy mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary, and may also prevent the fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg). Plan B® may also work by preventing it from attaching to the uterus (womb). It is important to know that Plan B® will not affect a fertilized egg already attached to the uterus; it will not affect an existing pregnancy.

Plan B® is approved by the FDA and contains the hormone levonorgestrel, the same hormone in the birth control pills that healthcare professionals have been prescribing for more than 35 years. The difference is that Plan B® contains a larger dose of levonorgestrel than the amount found in a single birth control pill.

Remember that Plan B® is not RU-486 (the abortion pill). Because Plan B® is used to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, it will not work if you’re already pregnant. If you take Plan B® and are already pregnant, it will not affect your existing pregnancy.

The key sentence is, "Plan B® may also work by preventing it from attaching to the uterus (womb)." What is "it" in this sentence? "It" is a fertilized egg, a zygote, a human embyro, a conceived human being. And if "it" is prevented from attaching to the uterus, "it" "dies." What the description also fails to convey is that while this induced miscarriage is not the only way the drug can work, it is likely the main way that it will function. The window of time for preventing ovulation and later fertilization of the egg, plus the fact that for this method to apply the timing would have to be just right, make this function of the drug far less likely to occur in actual use.

The plan is currently for Plan B® to be available over the counter for adults and by prescription for teenage girls. A number of concerns have been articlated about its sociological effects. As teenagers have plenty of access to cigarettes and alchohol (not to mention illegal drugs), it is though that restricting the drug to prescription only for underage girls may not make that much difference. Especially when sexually active teens and adults keep the drug stocked.

Some of the health risks associated with birth control pills (life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, for instance) are a clear danger for some women with Plan B®, too. Also, some physicians are concerned about the long-term effects of this high-dosage birth control pill and others worry about their effect on adolescents and the fact that there are no constraints that would prevent repeated use of Plan B for "emergency contraception."

Access to the drug may be used to talk girls out of using condoms and thus increase the spread of STDs. Scotland and the United Kingdom have already discovered that STDs increased and abortions increased when Plan B® was made easily available. The availablility of Plan B® may also increase unwed sexual activity in general simpliy because we now have one more easy way to avoid the consequences of our actions. All of these problems were unintentional, but then, "things don't always go as planned."

And, of course, all this sets us further and further adrift from the idea that sex has anything to do with the worship of God and the conception of children.

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