Political Animal


April 05, 2013 10:45 AM Baby-Killing Over the Counter For Kids!

By Ed Kilgore

To reproductive rights advocates starved for some good news amidst the continuing crusade of Republican-controlled state legislatures to restrict the availability of theoretically legal abortions, today’s decision by a federal district court judge in New York striking down a FDA ban on over-the-counter sales of “Plan B” contraceptive pills to customers under the age of 17 will be most welcome. The judge found Kathleen Sebelius’ rationale for the under-17 ban to be “arbitrary and capricious,” which could describe a lot of policies designed to turn down the heat on “hot-button” cultural issues.

It’s unclear whether the administration will fight or appeal the decision, but the one certain thing is that it will set the antichoice movement into an even fuller cry of outrage. I’m not sure how clearly a lot of progressives not directly involved in the reproductive rights battle understand this, but antichoicers (and Republican pols) almost universally describe Plan B not as a “contraceptive” but as an “abortifacient,” insofar as it operates (like an IUD, and in some cases like the regular old “pill”) by interfering with the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterine wall. The medical and scientific communities define “conception” as occurring after the successful implantation.

So the conservative reaction to this court decision won’t be primarily based on the usual stuff about giving teenagers access to “birth control” in a way that contributes to sexual delinquency. No, it will be about encouraging teenage girls to “kill their babies” without parental or medical supervision.

The common-sense argument that Plan B will help reduce the number of abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies just doesn’t wash with anti-choicers (or for that matter, the Catholic Bishops, which has made the coverage of “abortifacients” by the Obama administration’s contraceptive coverage mandate the centerpiece of its claim that the mandate deeply violates “religious liberty”). They claim Plan B is abortion, precisely the same in its moral significance as infanticide.

Aside from giving frightened teenagers a “Plan B” in cases of unprotected or under-protected sex, willing or unwilling, the good thing that could come out of this court decision is better public understanding of the extremism and consequences of the definition of “life” the antichoice movement and its wholly-owned subsidiary the GOP have embraced. It’s precisely the definition contained in all those “personhood initiatives” that typically repel a majority of voters—even in Mississippi!.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Christiaan Hofman on April 05, 2013 10:59 AM:

    I wonder if social conservative couples ever admit that they tried several times in vain to get pregnant. Because, technically, this usually means that the woman's uterus has rejected the fertilized ovum. And that's murder, at least if we'd believe the antichoicers. Unless of course it's God putting his hand in the woman's uterus (immaculate non-conception), which should be all right, because God has the right to kill whoever he wants. Or something.

  • c u n d gulag on April 05, 2013 11:05 AM:


    How long before these religious loons call for aspirin to be banned as an abortifacient, since it's well known that a woman can put one between her legs to stop from getting pregnant?

    And if your woman says she can't have sex with you because she has a headache, well, you can still have her take ibuprofen or naproxium sodium with some water, and then have her assume the missionary position, while you turn off the lights.

  • Zorro on April 05, 2013 11:13 AM:

    Ah, but to a pro-lifer, life ends at birth. Until birth, they're very pro-life- no birth control, no abortion, no nothing. After birth, fry 'em- especially if they've got a bit too much melanin in their skin.


  • Tien Le on April 05, 2013 11:20 AM:

    I'd really like to see more writers employ the term Forced Birthers to describe these people.

  • J Bean on April 05, 2013 11:25 AM:

    Life begins at insemination. Plan B interferes with the surge of luteinizing hormone and prevents ovulation. Larger doses of the same hormone are administered with IVF to improve implantation of the embryo. The anti-Plan B crowd "believes" that the drug causes abortion even though it has conclusively been shown not to play that role.

  • gocart mozart on April 05, 2013 11:26 AM:

    Yes Christiaan Hofman, God is the greatest abortionist. Over 2/3rds of "pregnancies end in abortion and often very early. When a woman says "I thought I might be pregnant because my period was late but I guess not because I just had it." Guess what, that period was "your baby" and if you are an anti-choicer you should give it a proper burial rather than flush it down the toilet. Logical consistancy and all that.

  • Dan Tyler on April 05, 2013 11:29 AM:

    J Bean has it right. This drug acts pre-implantation.

  • boatboy_srq on April 05, 2013 11:29 AM:

    @Christiaan Hofman: I wonder how much of the Teahad's Promotion of Births and Prevention of Alternatives is founded in the jealousy of barren FundiEvangelicals who resent all those fertile Unbelievers' ability to have so many (potential) offspring.

  • Josef K on April 05, 2013 11:41 AM:

    How many of these brave soldiers for the unborn would continue to march if their own mothers and wives were going to face a charge of Murder One?

    Scratch that. I doubt heavily they can comprehend something as simple as two-plus-two-equals-four.

  • TooManyJens on April 05, 2013 11:48 AM:

    "insofar as it operates (like an IUD, and in some cases like the regular old “pill”) by interfering with the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterine wall."



  • Mimikatz on April 05, 2013 12:51 PM:

    Nothing is going to get young women to the polls to vote Dem like restrictions on contraception. And married women too, especially when they realize they want to outlaw IVF. More power to the birth meddlers.

    And it isn't jealousy over lack of fertility. It is a desire to punish women for The Fall and even more a lot of very fearful marginal personalities being whipped up by moralizers who can't accept their own sexuality.

  • latts on April 05, 2013 1:01 PM:

    J Bean and Dan Tyler are right: Plan B is the same hormone that increases the uterine lining after ovulation in the 5-10 days before implantation and until the placenta is functioning. Ironically, c u n d gulag, aspirin may thin the uterine lining in some women-- other women who have higher clotting factors take low-dose aspirin to prevent miscarriage-- and therefore sometimes acts as they insist Plan B does. Hormones tend to function differently in different situations, not that nutburgers can be made to understand that.

  • low-tech cyclist on April 05, 2013 1:39 PM:

    "The medical and scientific communities define "conception" as occurring after the successful implantation."

    Well, sure, but pretty much everyone else understands it as being when the sperm bonks into the egg. And given that that's the case, we'd better be prepared to win the argument on that basis, rather than thinking we can win it by appeal to authority.

  • Nal on April 05, 2013 2:54 PM:

    What an abortifacient is -- and what it isn't

    according to Dr. Sandra Reznik ... "there are biological, clinical and epidemiological data clearly indicating that Plan B's mechanism of action involves only pre-fertilization events."

  • joanneindenver on April 05, 2013 4:19 PM:

    [Your concern trolling about abortion and birth control grow tiresome. You're done commenting on those topics here. --Mod]

  • exlibra on April 05, 2013 7:24 PM:

    I understand that the fright wing thinks that any fertilised egg is as good as a cooing human baby. But how can they tell that the egg is, in fact, fertilised? Those little wigglies aren't all that efficient at doing their job; there's thousands of them ejected every time and, even so, they miss their target as often as not.

  • magdalene on April 06, 2013 2:29 PM:

    Further abuse of women and young girls now used, abused, and discarded and still left with the consequences. There is little respect for these girls. Empowered? NO! They are used and have no dignity.

  • Teresa on April 06, 2013 3:09 PM:

    "The medical and scientific communities define “conception” as occurring after the successful implantation."

    This statement is ABSOLUTELY FALSE, and is yet another example of the Orwellian attempts to manipulate and control the debate through obfuscation.

    "Conception," as a term, refers to the joining of the sperm and egg into a single cell. "Implantation" refers to the burrowing of the new human being (at this point a multi-celled blastocyst) into the lining of the uterus.

    A new human life begins at conception. This is uncontroverted. When that new human life is treated as a person by the law is what is debated.

    Here is the FDA's own information about Plan B:

    "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)."

    Again, "fertilization," which is the moment of "conception," is NOT THE SAME AS "implantation."

  • Mal on April 06, 2013 10:57 PM:

    Is it not a crime for men and women to have sex with minors? So, why this ruling?