February 16, 2017

Understanding Both Sides of the Emergency Contraception Debate

What happens when you combine the FDA, left-wing, right-wing , pro-life and pro-choice advocates? One huge, noisy, non-stop debate! What could bring all these differing mind sets into the same arena? Four little words – “the morning after pill” and for more than a decade now it seems the fires have remained well fueled.

Feathers were once again ruffled in 2009, when Plan B became available over-the-counter to women 17 and older and now once again as Watson Pharmaceuticals has received FDA approval to distribute prescription ella to women 14 and older.

Before we get into both sides of the argument, let’s look at the cold, hard facts first. The morning after pill is essentially a post coital oral contraceptive for use after cases of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure (i.e. condom breaking, forgotten birth control pills, misplaced diaphragm..etc). It is also frequently used for victims of sexual abuse and rape. There are a few different types, but typically morning after pills function by delaying ovulation so that the sperm and egg can’t join by releasing the hormone progestin.

Okay and now on to the fun stuff…its debate time!

The Pro-Morning After Pill Debate
While the morning after pill and an abortion are NOT medically the same thing, they tend to draw similar advocates and rivals. Among the loudest of all these supporters, typically women’s organizations, women’s rights groups and left-wing liberals. When Plan B first became available over-the-counter, advocates saw this as a step in the right direction and an efficient way to cut down on unplanned pregnancies and to subsequently slow the ever growing abortion rate. Here are the main supporting statements you will hear if you spend any amount of time searching content on the subject.

The morning after pill can help women who have been forced to have sex against their will.
Coming forward after a sexual assault or rape can be difficult for most women and the last outcome they would like from this is to become pregnant with their abuser’s child. With the morning after pill, women have 3 to 5 days (depending on the particular pill) to come forward, be examined and take back the power over their own bodies.

Condoms break and accidents happen – you should have the option to back up your contraception.
Many times people take every precaution and still unexpected accidents happen. It would be unfair to be denied the right to remedy the situation after the fact since it is your own body.

Women have the right to choose whether they would like to have a child.
The morning after pill is not an abortion and it actually works by preventing the egg and sperm from ever joining in most cases since ovulation is normally delayed. People often confuse it with RU486, also known as the “abortion pill,” these two things are not the same. By preventing pregnancy from happening in the first place, you will not need an abortion further into the pregnancy.
They are safe and FDA approved medications
The morning after pills Plan B, Next Choice and ella are all FDA approved medications which are safe for use when taken correctly. Despite popular belief, there will be no impact on your ability to conceive at a later date and side effects are typically minimal and include cramping and soreness.

The Anti-Morning After Pill Debate
On the other side of the fence, there are those who feel that the morning after pill is morally objectionable and should be outlawed in the United States. Typically religious groups, right-wing conservatives and other less liberal groups are the “loudspeakers” of protests, many times picketing outside of women’s health clinics and on college campuses. These are commonly among the most typical counterpoints you will hear in response to the above mentioned advocates statements.

If a woman is raped or sexually assaulted and a life is created, it should be allowed to grow and prosper, after all, it is not the baby’s fault.
Life begins at the moment of intercourse and the egg and sperm joining, the morning after pill can also prevent the implantation of the egg into the uterine wall therefore terminating the pregnancy. The baby should not be punished for the father’s actions.

If you are careless enough to have sex without protection, you should be prepared to have a child.
Unprotected sex should be used for trying to conceive and if a pregnancy is likely to occur, it should not be prevented, but rather nurtured.

Women should not be given the option of terminating a life.
Taking the morning after pill shows a blatant disregard for human life and if we look at the 5th commandment, we read “thou shalt not murder.”

The morning after pill isn’t safe.
With such easy access to the pill, men may begin slipping the pill to their partner and therefore an unknowing woman may be tricked into taking it. Her fertility could be compromised.
When it comes down to it, you have heard the facts, both sides of the debate and it is your personal right to have an opinion. While I have attempted to keep my own feelings out of my writing, this is definitely difficult for me. I understand anything having to do with contraception is controversial in today’s society, but what kind of society would it be if we were denied the right to bring these issues out in the open?

Emily Murray is a contributing writer for KwikMed, the exclusive online distributor of the newest morning after pill called ella. She also is always up for a good debate and loves to play devil’s advocate whenever the opportunity allows.


  1. A good job of presenting both sides of a really difficult subject. Well done Ann Than You for presenting it.


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