The Crimson opined about it
. I talked about it
. And now you can watch this 60 Minutes piece
about it: the FDA Plan B debaucle, an unsettling example of how religious and moral beliefs are obstructing women’s access to over-the-counter emergency contraception (EC). The segment does a good job of showing how moral positions on Plan B–independent of the scientific evidence–are affecting women’s access to the contraceptive not only at the federal level, with the OTC application, but also at the local level, as many pharmacies and/or pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions
for Plan B on ideological grounds. Wal Mart apparently refuses to carry Plan B at all–a particularly troublesome situation since the retailer caters to low-income people, and EC is especially important for low-income women who may not be able to afford abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Interviews with Susan Wood (one of two FDA officials who resigned in protest) and David Hagar (who wrote the dissenting opinion used as justification for the initial rejection of the OTC application and believes God prompted him to do so) don’t tell us too much we can’t find in other accounts, but it’s nice to put faces to names.
One caveat: on my reading, the piece implies a necessary connection between religiosity (they focus on Christianity) and the belief that Plan B is an abortifacient like RU-486. I think it’s only fair to keep in mind that neither stance necessitates the other: not all religious people oppose contraception and/or abortion, or believe that a fertilized egg is effectively the same as a pregnancy or a baby; likewise, not all people who believe that ‘life’ begins at conception are religious. In any case, as Wood explains, Plan B is not an abortion pill according to the scientific definition because it does not disrupt an established pregnancy. Just something to keep in mind.
Note: In the original version of this post, I included a link to an article in The Nation that featured an interview with Hagar’s ex-wife. A reader kindly brought to my attention the fact that Hagar’s married life is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. With this in mind, I have removed the link. Thanks for your feedback! –kl