Time Magazine Calls Plan B “Abortion-Inducing”

Repent, sinners.

Please write a letter to the editor about the misinformation spread by this article. Plan B, a form of emergency contraception (the “morning-after” pill), is a high dose of birth control pills. It prevents pregnancy from occurring, and cannot actually cause abortion. Let Time know. Here’s the whole list of people you should contact:

Ed McCarrick, Publisher

Matthew Turck, Associate Publisher

Norman Pearlstine, Editor-In-Chief

Ann S. Moore, CEO

Dawn Bridges, SVP

Nora McAniff, EVP

John Squires, EVP

John Redpath, General Counsel

John Huey, Editorial Director

The article is otherwise fairly interesting, and it does point out that criminalizing abortion does not lower the abortion rate, and only results in women’s deaths:

The abortion measure may have even broader backing, according to the Mexico City-based pro-choice group Catholics For the Right to Decide, whose surveys in Mexico, where at least 90% of the population is Catholic, show a softening on abortion. “It’s become as much a public health issue now as a moral question,” says group spokeswoman Sandra Fosado, noting that more than 500,000 Mexican women seek illegal abortions each year — and more than 2,000 die annually as a result.

The numbers are equally grim around impoverished Latin America, where the United Nations estimates more than 4 million clandestine abortions are performed each year, resulting in more than 5,000 women’s deaths. Underground abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Chile. Although Chile has one of South America’s strictest anti-abortion codes, it’s estimated to have twice as many abortions each year (200,000) as Canada — a country with twice Chile’s population. (Abortion is legal in Canada.)

Abortion is illegal in Latin America largely because of the influence of the Catholic church. There are a great many Catholic leaders and individuals throughout Latin America who see the harm that illegal abortion has caused, and who back abortion rights because they see what it looks like on the ground. But the church as an institution has caused significant harm to women in Latin America. Thousands of women die every year from unsafe abortion. Hundreds of thousands (millions?) are injured. In Mexico alone, more than 100,000 of the 500,000 women who procure illegal abortions every year are hospitalized — a full fifth. Two thousand die.

Yet the church continues to oppose contraception, which could prevent millions of illegal abortions. The church continues to promote a culture of shame around out-of-wedlock pregnancy, pushing women into abortion. Hell, they support forcing an 11-year-old rape victim to give birth — and they excommunicated everyone involved in helping her to obtain an abortion.

Attempts at decreasing the abortion rate are very noble. I’m fairly confident that no woman wants to be in the position where she has to choose to terminate a pregnancy — it means that she’s pregnant when she doesn’t want to be, or she wanted to be pregnant and circumstances changed. Attempts to help women avoid those situations are incredibly laudable. But what, exactly, does the Catholic church do to help women avoid abortion, other than trying to illegalize it — which, as statistics show, doesn’t actually decrease the abortion rate but only serves to make it more dangerous?

There are certainly priests and Catholic individuals who do quite a bit to help women — and some of those individuals identify as “pro-life” or anti-abortion. There are individuals who do not shame women for out-of-wedlock pregnancy, who help them to prevent pregnancy, who promote health care access, who push for social policies that give pregnant women the resources to have wanted children. But the church as an institution is instead focused on keeping abortion illegal and blocking contraception access. I can understand their reasoning — they have a larger social view of sexuality and reproduction, and promote the ideal that sex should only occur within opposite-sex marriage, that it should be for the dual purpose of procreation and emotional bonding, and that all sex should be open to conception and eventual childbirth. It’s not my ideal world view, but I can understand their justification for promoting it. But if they’re going to do that, they need to recognize the collateral damage that inevitably occurs when their religiously-based ideals transfer into social policy and law. They need to recognize that the real world is not their ideal, and that their policies do cause death and harm to millions of women. They can certainly argue that such collateral damage is a justifiable side effect of the greater goal of promoting the Catholic ideal of sex and family. I’m personally skeptical of any family-based moral goal which leaves millions of bodies in its wake, but that’s me, and I am obviously not the Catholic church. But I have yet to hear the church address the deaths and injuries that it causes. The very least they could do is be honest, and either start promoting policies which save women’s lives, or admit that they’re more concerned with ideology and just don’t think women’s lives are worth saving.

Thanks to Christina for the link.

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16 comments for “Time Magazine Calls Plan B “Abortion-Inducing”

  1. Observer
    April 9, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    I was under the impression that Plan B could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, which an intellectually honest person could potentially refer to as an abortion (gets back to the beginning of life question, which I won’t attempt to solve here). Is that wrong?

  2. April 9, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    How can this be so terribly hard to grasp that it needs to be repeated so constantly? Plan B prevents pregnancy. Abortion terminates pregnancy and cannot, therefore, take place without a pregnancy to terminate. Preventing pregnancy =/= abortion, except insofar as they both allow women to be non-pregnant if they so choose.

    It’s sort of like saying that by using flame-retardant building materials you’re “putting out a house fire.”

  3. micheyd
    April 9, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Yeah, defenestrated, what kills me is that he called it contraception and “abortion-inducing” in the same sentence. That’s like, the sentence should just collapse on itself. It makes no sense.

  4. jesus jones
    April 9, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    “I was under the impression that Plan B could prevent a fertilized egg from implantin”

    I believe the chances of the pill doind that is the same as regular birth control and antibiotics – a rare side effect of many drugs, but not how plan B works. It prevents ovulation.

  5. micheyd
    April 9, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    which an intellectually honest person could potentially refer to as an abortion.

    No. An abortion ends a pregnancy. Pregnancy medically occurs at implantation. No matter how much one disagrees with the definition, it doesn’t make it debatable.

  6. car
    April 9, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    If you scroll down near the bottom of this DailyKos thread you’ll see several references to studies indicating that Plan B does not inhibit implantation of a fertilized embryo. If there is one, Plan B does not affect the subsequent pregnancy.

  7. A.G
    April 9, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    This is the most even handed post I have read on this site and others like it. I feel that it really strikes at the heart of the issue of abortion. You manage to explain why it is necessary to protect the rights of women, while maintaining that the prevention of abortion would be the greater moral good. Thanks for a great post. I will be sure to send this link to many others like me. :-)

  8. preying mantis
    April 9, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    “Is that wrong?”

    Uh, yeah. You can debate about when ‘life’ begins until you’re blue in the face, but the beginning of pregnancy, without which there is no abortion, is about as clear-cut as it gets.

  9. Cecily
    April 9, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Dumb lazy question…can I just bcc all those folks on one big spammy e-mail? Or if I’m that lazy, should I just send one to the top honcho?

    I’m pretty lazy, and pretty time-crunched too.

  10. April 9, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Is Observer by any chance Random?

  11. shfree
    April 9, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    I work a clinic, and we dispense Plan B. Before it went over the counter, our protocol was to give a new client a high sensitivity pregnancy test before we would give her the Plan B. Because if a body is already kicking out the small amount of pregnancy hormones needed to get a positive high sensitivity pregnancy test, Plan B ain’t gonna do a thing. Because it doesn’t end a pregnancy. Period.

  12. April 9, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    I can’t believe people still don’t know the GOT DAMN difference between RU486 and Plan B. It’s not that hard. I also can’t believe someone wants us to have that debate here. How ridiculous.

  13. micheyd
    April 9, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    And, *sigh*, I hate how this whole debate is about shifting goalposts (to try to punish women, naturally). All of a sudden we end up having to reassure people that it isn’t abortion, when frankly I don’t give a hoot if it is or not. But in the interest of scientific accuracy, I always feel like jumping on this topic.

  14. Betsy
    April 9, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Also, guys, don’t forget this important email address, which is for letters to the editor: letters@time.com

  15. Bethynyc
    April 10, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Email sent. I had to explain to my MOTHER this weekend how Plan B works, because she thought it caused an early abortion. She is very well read, thoughtful, and believes in the scientific process, but unfortunately the word out there equates Plan B with abortion.

    I was so glad I went to the EC training at Planned Parenthood.

    (Mom is consistent; she is anti-abortion, anti-war, anti-death penalty, etc.)

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