Sunday, April 24, 2005

The New Republic Online: Morning-After Sickness

"[A] professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, has estimated that, if emergency contraceptives were widely available in this country, they could reduce the approximately 1.3 million abortions that take place yearly in this country by half. If a culture of life is so sacrosanct, shouldn't that trump the issue of premarital sex?

When conservatives talk about Plan B, they conjure up images of lust-crazed college girls engaging in one-night stands, then reaching over empty beer bottles to grab their supersized Plan B jars. But the one group to whom emergency contraception would make the greatest difference is rape victims. According to Trussell, who studied statistics from 1998, about 22,000 of the 25,000 women who became pregnant from rape could have prevented pregnancy with emergency contraception. Unfortunately, the new federal hospital guidelines for rape treatment released in January mysteriously omitted Plan B, even though a previous draft had included it. In Colorado, conservatives have fought efforts to impose a guideline that includes emergency contraceptives. Apparently, elements of the right are so committed to their stark definition of life and so concerned about hypothetical cultural signals that they would prefer rape victims become pregnant than inform them about emergency contraception. Who are the extremists now? "

Well put Jonathan Cohn.

Detractors will quickly point to the Princeton estimate and dismiss the whole argument, but even if the estimate is 100 times too high, that's still six or seven thousand prevented abortions per year.

That won't matter, of course, because it's not about morality or abortion.

It's about power.

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