The Plan C Pill: Be Fruitful and Multiply
Does a popular brand of emergency contraception pill actually cause an abortion? That depends on your worldview. Birth control is in the news again. So is abortion. What the news fails to report is the depth of controversy surrounding these two related issues.
After last week, 15-year-old girls will be allowed to bike down to the local pharmacy and purchase Plan B, an over-the-counter pill described as an “emergency contraceptive.” What could possibly be wrong with young girls using emergency contraception (aside from the obvious)?
Depending on your worldview, the Plan B pill might not be contraception at all. It might cause an abortion. On naturalism, life is not sacred; it simply is. But worldviews which hold life as sacred have more to consider in this debate.
When does human life become sacred? At conception? At 37 weeks? After birth? More specifically, when does it become worth protecting from harm? These are important questions, but the most salient one to this discussion is:
- When does a pregnancy begin?
If there is no pregnancy, there can be no abortion. But the definition of pregnancy came under attack after the abortion flood gates were opened after Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Historically, pregnancy has been understood to begin at conception, when the sperm fertilizes the egg.
In 2009, Christopher M. Gacek, J.D., Ph.D., Senior Fellow for Regulatory Affairs for the Family Research Council in Washington D.C. conducted a study of the four major medical dictionaries in use for the last 100 years.
His conclusion after carefully researching each edition of Dorland’s, Stedman’s, Taber’s, and Mosby’s dictionaries was that the scientific analysis of the belief that pregnancy begins at conception (fertilization)
“is not only reasonable but . . . the dominant worldview presented by the dictionaries and the historical usage they represent.”[i]
In other words:
- The belief that pregnancy begins at implantation is the minority view
The Plan B pill is “believed” to principally act by preventing ovulation and blocking fertilization. “In addition,” describes the full product information from Plan B’s website, “it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium).”[ii]
If you believe a pregnancy begins at conception, Plan B’s status as an abortion pill depends on whether or not a fertilized egg was blocked from implantation.
To complicate things further, you will never know. For some, ignorance is bliss.
One narrative on how to solve the world’s problem is to keep families small. Small families lead to individual success. This leads to economic development and solves the world’s problems (supposedly). Plan A, then, must be to minimize pregnancies. We have already discussed Plan B.
But Plan C uses another narrative: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Watch Hans Rosling’s TED talk on “Religion and babies” and you’ll see why we won’t break the 10 billion population mark even if we tried (and Lord knows, I’ve tried).
If children truly are a gift, are they a gift we should ever consider returning?
[i] Christopher M. Gacek, Ph.D., “Conceiving ‘Pregnancy’ U.S. Medical Dictionaries and Their Definitions of ‘Conception’ and ‘Pregnancy,’” Insight publication, April 2009, 10, http://www.frc.org/insight/conceiving-pregnancy-us-medical-dictionaries-and-their-definitions-of-conception-and-pregnancy.
[ii] Teva Women’s Health, Inc., “Full Prescribing Information,” Plan-B One-Step, accessed May 5, 2013, http://planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf