Apologies to ALPF! I was running out the door when you posted your last LOTDs. My brain being oatmeal, and I promptly forgot all about them. Today a memory rose from the mush...

In a Toronto Star editorial, several leaders in Canadian women's health urged Canada to get "caught up with the rest of the world when it comes to" emergency contraception. EC - also known as Plan B or the Morning-After Pill - is a safe and relatively effective (80%) method of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

EC is currently available to Canadian women with a prescription. Three provincial governments have improved access by authorizing pharmacists to write prescriptions for it, and it appears that will be the case federally soon as well.

But many Canadian health and women's organizations want Health Canada to go one step further, and make EC available over the counter, without professional intervention.

EC is safe, effective, and - despite what you may have heard - not an abortion pill. It only prevents conception; it cannot interfere with an already established pregnancy.

Which begs the question: Then why does the American anti-abortion movement oppose increased access to EC? Indeed, why do they oppose its use under any circumstances?

When the authors of this Star Op-Ed urge Canada to catch up with the rest of the world, they mention Britain, Morocco, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Israel, France, Belgium, Denmark and Portugal. Hmm, who's not on that list?

In the US, a battle has been raging between the reproductive rights movement and the Food and Drug Administration over making EC available over-the-counter. For a while it appeared that the FDA was going to approve it... A few key Bush appointments later, it was dead in its tracks.

None of the FDA's excuses for failing to approve the Morning After Pill makes any sense. It's obvious that it's a purely political decision. Trust me on this one, or read more here. An excerpt:
The FDA’s own scientific experts have recommended that Plan B be made available without a prescription and without age restrictions. Volumes of scientific research and international experience also prove that the drug is safe and effective for women of all ages. And experts estimate that increased access to emergency contraception could cut the U.S. annual rate of three million unplanned pregnancies in half.
More than anything else I can think of, the resistance to EC underscores the utter hypocrisy of the anti-abortion movement. If they were truly concerned with preventing abortion, they'd urge that EC be as accessible as possible, because that's exactly what it does. But if their goal is to force people to live by their own particular morality, and to punish women for having sex without the consequences of pregnancy, then their opposition to EC makes perfect sense.

On a nauseating side note, American women in the anti-violence movement are still fighting state legislators to require hospitals to offer EC rape survivors at hospitals. (!!) In New York State, for example, up until last year, hospitals were only required to give a woman who had been raped a prescription for EC. Yet 50% of pharmacies in New York City don't even stock the drug. And why put the woman through any more complications than she's already coping with? Why couldn't a hospital just dispense the drug?

I'm happy to report that it's a battle we won. But it took years. Why was it such a struggle? Why does this have to fought state-by-state?

As far as universal, over-the-counter access to EC, I'll be very interested to see where Health Canada will land.


Crabbi said...

Nauseating, indeed. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but the issue is control. The idea that women can make decisions about their own bodies is threatening to many. This obsession with people's private activities and parts is just so sick and twisted.

L-girl said...

It's always good to state the obvious, and you're so right.

On a personal level, you've zeroed in on why I am so driven to the resist them - the psychological underpinnings of my politics.

G said...

I think the argument against EC stems from a pro-life stance that argues that preventing conception is the equivalent to an abortion (killing a possible life). Note these are the same people who rail against sex before marriage.

Now, let's get picky on this one and speak in theoretical terms. This can get interesting. They want conception allowed because it is pro-life. Yet at the same time, conception, in their dogma, is not allowed for anyone unmarried. But that leads to a hypocrisy of it's own, because in essence, aren't they preventing possible life from existing by suggesting that no one can have sex?

Oh, the crude fun you can have with a bit of philosophy. Laugh, it's a funny suggestion.

No, here's the funny part. When is the last time you heard these people issue a "Stop the Condom" campaign? Wonder where they were when the Catholic church, of all places, handed out birth control to prostitutes to control AIDS ... probably they were picketing a clinic ... or maybe even at mass ... guys I just don't get your people sometimes.

L-girl said...

On the other hand, if using contraception is wrong because it stops the possibility of life - well, so does abstinence. So really, everyone must be required to have unprotected sex all the time, because when you don't have sex, you are stopping the possibility of stopping the possibility of life...

I don't buy any of their arguments against EC. I believe those are smokescreens for the central issue of controlling women's sex and reproductive lives. Sex without consequences?? You cannot have that - you must be punished!

RobfromAlberta said...

Personally, I don't see any contradiction. I totally disagree with the religious types on this, but their position is internally consistent and it is based on two premises. One, sex exists solely for the purpose of procreation and two, children should only be raised by married, heterosexual couples. Based on these two principles, all of the following are immoral; masturbation, premarital sex, contraception, abortion, adultery, gay sex, gay marriage, gay adoption and any sex act other than intercourse.

If there is any hypocrisy, it arises from the likelihood that many do not practice what they preach.

L-girl said...

Oh yeah, I do see your point. But to me, what you're saying only further underscores the hypocrisy.

The anti-abortion movement doesn't say they're against sex - they say they're about "saving babies", reducing and eliminating abortion. It follows that they should support making effective birth control more widely available.

But what they're *really* about is what you say above. It's not "pro life" (big quotes there!), it's anti sex. Well, for some people, anyway.

RobfromAlberta said...

I think it's a case of picking the battles they think they can win. Abortion and gay marriage are two areas the religious fanatics think they can make headway and in the hierarchy of social evils, they see those issues as the most pressing. But in some southern states, there are still anti-sodomy laws, so the war on sex has not been conceded.

L-girl said...

Yeah. It's partially that, but as a feminist, I see it through a slightly different lens.

You know H. L. Mencken's famous definition of a puritan?

Crabbi said...

Yeah, I've had to get over my aversion to stating the obvious. The more of us that do so, the better. I just get so frustrated because our society is headed back to the dark ages and what used to be mainstream views (choice, sep. of church and state) are now crazy notions held by moonbats, so state the obvious we must.

You know what I don't get about anti-choice people? They believe abortion is ending a life, but some make exceptions in the case of rape or incest. Completely illogical - a fetus is a fetus, regardless. Of course, denying a woman an abortion after a rape is cruel and barbaric, so what it comes down to (for them) is how she got pregnant. Simply put, but definitely logical. And here is my serious and smart-ass answer to people who ask how I can be pro-choice and anti death penalty: That convicted murderer isn't residing in my uterus. I know - I'm awful.

L-girl said...

Yup, exactly! I say that all the time about the rape/incest thing.

Oo, I love that smart-ass and serious answer. I must borrow it!

The serious answer for me is: One is a person. The other is a blob of cells - with the potential of becoming a person - but still just a blob.

Honestly, I care much more about the slaughter of baby seals, or the abuse of pit bulls, than I do about blobs of cells implanted in someone's uterus. I realize that makes me a twisted monster to some people, but hey.