Monday, September 10, 2007

And now, a brief intermission

Read this, please. It's really, really important.

I've long argued that the real philosophy behind much of the anti-choice rhetoric is really, truly, deeply misogynistic, and it's about denying women the most basic control over their own reproductive systems.

The Republicans balking about Plan B, I think, supports that contention.


Chris J. said...

I agree with you, Mac. Here is another very useful discussion from an issue of The New England Journal of Medicine last year. ( I can't get the linky thing to work)
(Word verification jrokrs??)

Jean Marie said...

Mac, this makes no sense whatsoever. None.

It's not mainstream Republicans, is it? 'Cause that doesn't make any sense, either. What does add up, though is, if it's the far right religious wing nuts, aka;zealots.

I just don't want all Republicans to be lumped together as non-thinking, misogynistic jackasses.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Hi Mac! check out my LJ when you get a chance!

Mac said...

ADM, I read Blogenspiel, and your LJ is already on my f-list. :)

Nice to see you here, though!

Anonymous said...

Seems to me we shouldn't attribute to a conspiracy what can be chalked up to plain old ignorance. I have a college degree, in the sciences, no less, and I had no idea how plan B worked, so I doubt a lot of the religious right (with their general aversion to science in the first place) do either. Unfortunately, a 6th grade education is all that federal law requires before someone is allowed to vote (that and be 18, of course). It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of republican office holders cringe when these people call them up and tell them they won't see any support next election if they don't speak out against plan B, but what are they going to do? They were elected on more than one issue and have a duty to represent the voters (not that I think duty is really on the minds of a lot of them, but staying in office is). No way are they going to cross their admittedly ignorant constituancy, and they are not empowered to suddenly make these people see reason. Blaming lawmakers is a simplistic action, the real problem is our public education system passes morons out into society, instead of holding them back until they get it.

Anonymous said...

I think the basic premise behind abortion is that it destroys an unborn human being. We call that murder. You can can't do that with a panda, so why is it legal with a human being? That doesn't make sense.

I'm one of those "far right religious nuts." I'm also college educated, entrepreneur, and wealthy land owner.


Mac said...

Ray, perhaps you can explain why the fact that you're a "wealthy land owner" means you should get to tell women what they do with their own bodies?

And, umm, Plan B has nothing to do with abortion. There IS no fertilized egg.

But you don't really care about that, do you.

Chris J said...

I'm never sure to what degree the persistent conflation of Plan B with abortion is plain ignorance, willful ignorance, or sly disingenuousness. Of course I'm not a wealthy landowner, so what do I know.

Lisa said...


Plan B has nothing, at all, to do with abortion. It's not abortion if there's no embryo.

Plan B essentially tells the uterine lining to Stop What You're Doing, so that the egg never finds a location to affix itself, because the uterine lining is not receptive. The egg never even starts to divide, dude, and the chromosomes ain't mingling. There's no abortion involved.

It's exactly what happens most of the time a woman has coitus--the egg fails to implant because the uterine wall isn't ready, or because the egg wasn't fertilized, or for any number of other reasons.

Jean Marie said...

Ray, I'm not sure what college you graduated from, but your degree apparently didn't include biology. Elementary school sex ed teaches that Plan B will/would simply interrupt egg division. Comprende. In short, nothing happens, at all.

No embryo, no egg, nada.

My recommendation, would be to sell some of your land and return to college. Just sayin'.

My other thought would be, to not tell or suggest what women ought to do w/ their bodies.

No, it should not be used as a regular source of birth control, but, it should be made available when needed.

I feel better, now.

Barry Michaels said...

I can't speak for the Republican party or their opposition to Plan B, but as one who has been involved in the pro-life movement for 20 years, I feel like I'm on pretty solid ground when I say "the real philosphy" behind it is respect for human life. I'm a husband (the kind who cooks the meals half the time, helps with laundry, etc), and I have 4 extraordinary daughters, whom I want to grow up strong, independent, and in control of their own lives. There's not much misogynistic about me.

It's easy to dismiss the pro-life movement as misogynistic, but also unfair and dishonest. Far better to engage the arguments about when human life begins, the dignity of human life, etc.

Control of one's reproductive systems is one thing. Control of one's children, and whether they live or die, is another.

Barry Michaels

Barry Mihaels said...


This post got me wondering about the Plan B opposition, since it claimed that there is no abortion involved, only prevention of fertilization. Turns out that's not right.

This is from the FDA's website, in a Q&A section about Plab B:

3. How does Plan B work?

Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work.


I know some people claim that prevention of implantation does not constitute abortion, but the original post that you linked to (for some reason, your link doesn't connect to the original post any longer) claimed that it only prevents fertilization. As the FDA indicates, it can also prevent implantation after fertilization.

Barry Michaels

Mac said...

Barry Michaels -- I'll go and find the original post. Not sure why the link failed.

In the meantime, though, here's the thing:

There were no large tests to see if it prevented fertilization.
Why? Because no eggs are released, so you can't test to see if it prevents fertilization

So think about how you'd go about testing on human subjects.
And yeah, it's deliberate.
But since it wasn't tested, they don't "know" that it doesn't prevent fertilization.

So the statement on the FDA's site is extraordinarily misleading.

pxcampbell said...

Plan B is a super high dose of the progesterone -- the key ingredient in birth control pills.

Its mechanism of action is quite similar to the pill. It does three different things to prevent pregnancy: 1) inhibits ovulation, 2) disrupts fertilization (joining egg and sperm) and 3) prevents adhesion of a fertilized egg to the uterine wall.

So, how the drugs works to prevent pregnancy in an individual depends on where she was in her cycle when she took the two doses (within 72 hours of unprotected sex).

It's the third aspect that bothers those who believe that life begins at fertilization.

Personally, I have a hard time drawing the Human Life Line that far back. It is too close to the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" notion of life.

What I fail to understand in the debate is what gives any of these folks the right to decide for ME what is between me and my God. I simply don't get it -- I was taught to respect individuals' beliefs.

I was taught to understand that there are rights and wrongs, and yet that there are lot of things in between that we can never KNOW. We can believe, but we can never KNOW.

You respect another person's faith, as best you can, and hope they offer you the same courtesy.

Unfortunately, I'm getting frakking sick and tired of Christians who think they can tell me what to believe. Fundamental, book-thumping Christians who don't even know -- they are that ignorant of the book use to beat us over the heads with -- that their very "inspired word of God" contains, in the first book, two completely different versions of Genesis. God must have been having a schizo day that day.

But that's a part of a different rant.

I don't know why others care so much about my soul -- doesn't it make more room for them in heaven if I fail to show up because I have or haven't exercised my conscious?

pxcampbell said...

With respect, Mac, but the FDA does not post misleading information.

It has cadres of scientists, and lawyers who make damned certain of that.

What's your source to say that there were no studies with respect to fertilization?

As a former staff member of a drug company, I can vouchsafe that if the company didn't run the tests for Plan B specifically, they most certainly referenced other clinical studies that demonstrated that the progesterone inhibits fertilization and, if fertilization had already occurred (as it could if the woman delays up to the 72 hour post intercourse time period), it inhibits attachment to the uterine wall.

So, my long experience with FDA -- drug companies can make statements that aren't supported by data. There's a big line that can't get crossing -- sure, it can leaned over -- but not crossed.

Given the controversy surrounding this drug, I suspect that everyone's been extra careful not to any leaning at all-- so all the statements about the 3-mechanisms of action are supported by clinical trial data. The statements can't be made without the data.

People just don't get how much data goes to the FDA to get drug approval and people mostly don't understand that ads and promotional materials also get submitted to the FDA for approval. All companies have to submit all promotional materials to the FDA -- some have to submit BEFORE they can use the ads, some get to submit as part of their annual reports (required by law). If a company messes up and crosses the line, the biggest penalty is that the FDA will require pre-approval of promotional materials which is a major pain in the ass and can cause 6 to 12-month delays in releasing things.

Anyway, that's all an aside.

This is not a scientific debate.

It's a debate of faith. What do you believe is right or wrong?

And if you believe it, what gives you the right to impose that belief on me?

The most dangerous point the anti-abortionists have is that they claim that a human life has been created -- one that should enjoy the protection of law. That's where the debate truly lies.

As I said in my previous post, the point of fertilized egg is too close to the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" line. What's scary about that is you can very quickly to a theory where every egg is sacred and women should be kept pregnant from the time they start ovulating -- think of all those eggs that go "wasted" among our teenage girls?

That's the thing that scares me.

Mac said...

Errrm, yeah. Cuz the FDA was so johnny-on-the-spot right-on-the-money with regard to tobacco. And silicone breast implants. And sodium saccharine. And . . .

Barry Michaels said...

Here's the thing about saying that when life begins or who's a person and who's not is a "matter of faith, not science" -- it's true.

Science can't "prove" that a fetus is a person or has rights. It also can't prove that blacks are people or that people with mental disabilities are people. Personhood is a philosophical judgment, not a scientific one.

But surely that doesn't mean that wherever I draw the lines in my own person belief and choices is okay, as long as I sincerely believe it. (We're all pretty clear much in agreement that where the lines were drawn regarding black people in the U.S. during the early 1800's, for example, was a mistake, though there was no science to "prove" it.) And so we must be attentive to always being respectful, in our thinking and our law, to every person in the human family.

As for the science, it offers some pretty clear evidence about whether or not the unborn child is part of that family. (We know it's a distinct living human, not just another part of the mother's own body, we know it's alive and growing...)