Confused?!? So is everyone else...
I cringe when people call Emergency Contraception (EC) the abortion pill. Why?! (Glad you asked) Because they are not at all the same thing and confusing them has created barriers to access, placed both pills in the height of the social and moral debate on contraception and women’s reproductive rights, and has provided misinformation and ammunition for pro-life advocates across the country.
While it seems that both EC and the RU-486 are housed under the umbrella term “the morning-after pill,” they are far from the same thing. Mainly because EC (coined the morning after pill) contains either progesterone, a combination of progesterone and estrogen, or ulipristal acetate and works just like birth control. With the presence of these hormones, EC does three things: 1) prevents ovulation, to insure the egg is not released, 2) thickens the cervical mucus, so the sperm can’t get to the egg and finally, thins the uterine lining so a fertilized egg can’t attach to the uterus. Basically, EC nothing is more than a higher dose of your BC. Clearly, the best kept secret in contraception.
To the contrary RU-486 or mifepristone (the abortion pill) is not the morning after pill and doesn’t work like EC or BC. Instead, the pill is taken to terminate pregnancy up to 9 weeks after a women’s last menstrual period (LMP). The pill stops the body from making progesterone causing the uterine lining to break down, so pregnancy can’t continue. Then misoprotol is taken to empty the uterus. EC is preventing the pregnancy from ever occurring (the egg being fertilized) and the abortion bill is stopping the pregnancy form progressing any further.
So, with the clear distinction outlined – where is all the confusion coming from and how is it affecting women’s access to EC?
Well, to no surprise, anti-abortion advocates have twisted the truth about contraception yet again. Late last year I was cringing a lot, mainly because the media debate over contracpetion had turn into a debate over the abortion pill, but they really talkin about emergency contracpetion...are you following? Confused yet? I think that might have been the plan...to have us think we were confused enought not to want to use birth control, EC, or the abortion pill. And with the debate over whether life begins at conception and the fact that EC works to make the uterus a hostile environment to prevent implantation – pro-lifers just began out right calling EC the abortion pill. This is clearly not the case. And political right-wingers followed suit, falsely calling the morning after pill the abortion pill in interviews, political debates, or whenever the subject came up. While this could just be politics, the sad thing is, the misinformation about EC has spread to some of our physicians and pharmacist – the vary people women rely on to prescribe and administer EC. The result? Pharmacists who are uninformed about the actual age requirement (age 17) necessary for the use of EC refusing women the pill. I am really not asking those that are against EC or the abortion pill to come to other side, but I am asking them to at least get their facts straight!