When the FDA approved ella as emergency contraception last week, anti-abortion activists howled. They claim that the pills, which work by using progesterone to delay or prevent ovulation, can keep an already fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and that it can abort an already-implanted embryo.
HRA Pharma, the makers of ella, don't have any information easily available about the drug. If it works like already-existing emergency contraception Plan B, though, it could possibly prevent a fertilized egg from implanting but won't end an existing pregnancy.
Abortion foes actually launched a website, ella Causes Abortions, that claims to lay out the facts about ella. But like so much in the "pro-life" movement, I'm just seeing scare tactics.
ella only works for five days after unprotected sex, and because of that you'll never know if there was a fertilized egg in play or not. And a fertilized egg, without implanting in the uterus, does not a baby make. Essentially what ella does is cover the bases a little better than Plan B, which only remains fully effective for three days after unprotected sex, if you happened to have an oops encounter while you were ovulating.
I'm just going to throw this out there: So what if it does block implantation of a fertilized egg? Women who are taking emergency contraception emphatically, seriously, absolutely do not want to get pregnant. These are not the women who would have a change of heart after attempting to schedule an abortion a la Juno or Miranda from Sex and the City. If you believe life begins the minute sperm meets egg, then yes, I suppose that would seem to be a tragedy. But I think the greater tragedy would be children brought into the world unwanted and unloved.
Let's not forget that not all unprotected sex is consensual, either. Are we really going to keep women who've survived that most personal of violations from having to endure at least one of the possible repercussions? Can you be that cruel? I can't.
I'm personally opposed to abortion; I wish no one ever chose to end an unwanted pregnancy and instead joyfully chose to place those children for adoption by a loving home. But we don't live in a perfect world, and until then, there needs to be reproductive choice.
Image via HRA Pharma