Morning-After Pill Is Not An Abortion, According To Science

Is the morning-after pill an abortion? Studies say no.

Birth control is center stage in the national discussion these days due to the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new health rules that require contraception coverage for female employees. But the fight has less to do with birth control and more to do with abortion, notes NPR. Religious institutions are more worried about emergency contraceptives like Plan B, considered by some to be tantamount to abortion.

“The Health and Human Services preventive services mandate forces businesses to provide the morning-after and the week-after pills in our health insurance plans,” said Hobby Lobby boss David Green. “These abortion-causing drugs go against our faiths.”

The pills he is referring to are Plan B and ella (which is a week-after pill). Both drugs are considered contraceptives by the Food and Drug Administration and are different from RU486 (Mifeprex) which is an abortion pill. But Mifeprex isn’t considered a contraceptive under FDA guidelines and isn’t covered under the new insurance requirements.

“It is not only factually incorrect, it is downright misleading. These products are not abortifacients,” says Susan Wood, professor of health policy at George Washington University. “And their only connection to abortion is that they can prevent the need for one.”

The big question is whether or not Plan B pills work before or after ovulation. If before, it’s considered a contraceptive. If after, the anti-abortion crowd can easily consider it pregnancy termination. But recent and fairly definitive research into Plan B shows that it does indeed prevent ovulation.

A study published last year led the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics to declare that Plan B doesn’t have an effect post ovulation. Scientists are less certain about ella.

“It’s chemically similar [to RU-486], but it was designed to have stronger effects on the ovary and less effect on the endometrium,” said Diane Blithe, a contraceptive researcher for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She pointed to studies that show that ella has no effect on blocking implantation.

But opponents aren’t convinced. “To be as successful as they say it is, it would have to have post-fertilization effects,” said Gene Rudd, senior vice president of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and a practicing OB-GYN.

What do you think? Are morning-after drugs the same as an abortion?