Why Oppose Plan B?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate