Why Oppose Plan B?

| Fri Apr. 29, 2005 12:53 PM EDT

In this week's New Republic, Jonathan Cohn makes an all-crucial point about Plan B, the morning-after pill, that's being held up by the White House and opposed by conservatives:

When conservatives talk about Plan B, they conjure up images of lust-crazed college girls engaging in one-night stands, then reaching over empty beer bottles to grab their supersized Plan B jars. But the one group to whom emergency contraception would make the greatest difference is rape victims. According to Trussell, who studied statistics from 1998, about 22,000 of the 25,000 women who became pregnant from rape could have prevented pregnancy with emergency contraception.

Unfortunately, the new federal hospital guidelines for rape treatment released in January mysteriously omitted Plan B, even though a previous draft had included it. In Colorado, conservatives have fought efforts to impose a guideline that includes emergency contraceptives. Apparently, elements of the right are so committed to their stark definition of life and so concerned about hypothetical cultural signals that they would prefer rape victims become pregnant than inform them about emergency contraception.

Right, and the "rape victim" aspect often gets lost in this whole discussion. Funny, that. Now if you're the sort of pro-life conservative that believes all abortion is wholly unjustifiable murder, and that even impregnated rape victims should carry their babies to term, well, then this is all perfectly consistent. Oppose away. But most pro-lifers, quite obviously, don't think like that. Even the president holds the odd view that abortion is murder but that in cases of rape, a little murder is okay. Fair enough, but one of the most important uses of the "morning-after" pill is to thwart the sort of pregnancies that Bush has said it's perfectly okay to thwart. The hold-up here is truly appalling.

MORE: Jessica of Feministing has started a good discussion here over whether it makes sense to focus purely on rape victims, since that more or less concedes the main thrust of the pro-choice position (i.e., that all subsets of women should have the right to choose, not just victims of rape or incest). Worth reading.

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