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Emergency contraception can take two forms: either a high dose of oral contraceptive (such as the “morning-after” pill or the newly approved ella) or an intrauterine device (IUD). Oral contraceptives are used most often.
How it works
Emergency contraception (EC) is offered to women within 72 hours after unprotected sex for the “morning-after” pill or 5 days after for ella. If taken within the first 72 hours after intercourse, the “morning-after” pill will be only about 75% effective. Studies have shown that ella can decrease the chance of pregnancy by about two-thirds for at least 120 hours after unprotected sex. According to Planned Parenthood's explanation of emergency contraception, “It prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation, fertilization, or implantation. It will not affect an existing pregnancy. And it will not cause an abortion.” However, because life begins at fertilization–not implantation—this description is deceptive. EC can prevent the already existing human embryo from implanting into the uterine wall, thereby forcing the woman to expel her embryonic baby via chemical abortion.
Determining whether fertilization has occurred this early is difficult, so women take EC without certainty of a pregnancy. Aside from the medical risks and social implications, this uncertainty dictates that the Right to Life movement cannot support the use of EC.
Dangers of EC
In addition to EC causing a chemical abortion, this powerful drug endangers women and girls. Recent medical studies have proven that intensified doses of hormones (such as those used in hormone replacement therapy) are harmful to women. Scientists found that these high doses of artificial hormones, mainly progestin (the hormone used in emergency contraception), lead to greater risk for breast cancer, stroke, and heart attack. Planned Parenthood acknowledges only a few of the negative effects on its website: most women will experience nausea and sometimes vomiting, which should pass after about 24 hours. Planned Parenthood masks the dangers of taking drugs without the counsel of a doctor.
On August 13, 2010, the FDA approved the use of ella as a controversial form of emergency contraception. Currently, women and girls still need a prescription to obtain ella.
The “morning-after” pill is available at most pharmacies across the country. Women (and men) age 17 and older can obtain this pill without a prescription (under 16 will need a doctor’s prescription). Minor girls are still at risk, however, since individuals who are 17 or older can purchase the pills without question. Conceivably, a sexual predator could purchase the pills and pass them along to a minor girl. Parental involvement should be necessary in regard to the health decisions of minor daughters; this safeguard would protect these young girls from sexual predators. (The teenage girl’s sexual partner is an average of 6 years older than she is.)
Removing the doctor’s expertise, his familiarity with his patient, and his guidance on medication by allowing women to self-administer this powerful drug puts women at risk. In no other medical situation could a patient autonomously determine that a drug as powerful as the “morning-after” pill is an appropriate course of action and then procure the drug for herself without a prescription. Because the “morning-after” pill can cause a chemical abortion, the basic health standards and requirements for its usage (i.e., doctor supervision, warning labels, patient information, contraindications, etc.) should not be ignored or lowered to a level that further endangers women.