Some politicians in jurisdictions with strong abortion laws argue that exceptions for rape and incest victims are unnecessary because emergency contraception can be used instead. However, according to medical professionals and advocates for rape survivors, emergency contraception is not always flawless, and gaining access to these emergency methods during the short time frame in which they would be effective may not be possible for someone who has just been assaulted.
A look at emergency contraception and what some people say about them.
WHAT EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVES ARE
Emergency contraceptives are utilized to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual activity or if a method of birth control fails.
Two drugs, also known as “morning after pills,” are available: levonorgestrel, marketed under the brand name Plan B, and ulipristal acetate, marketed as ella. They should be administered as soon as possible following unprotected sex.
According to Dr. Jonah Fleisher, director of the Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the pills suppress ovulation, which is the release of an egg from an ovary. Eggs cannot be fertilized if they are not released.
ARE THEY SIMILAR TO ABORTIONS PILLS?
No. Pregnancy is prevented via emergency contraception. The abortion drug mifepristone terminates a pregnancy once a fertilized egg has implanted in the lining of a woman’s uterus. It is typically administered with misoprostol and can be used for up to 11 weeks following the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period.
DOES EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION WORK?
Certainly not always. The sooner the pills are taken after unprotected sexual activity, the more effective they are, according to physicians. Fleisher stated that taking the medicines before sexual activity will not prevent pregnancy.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of Plan B up to 72 hours, or three days, following unprotected intercourse. Ella is permitted for a maximum of 120 hours, or five days.
Because sperm can survive inside a woman’s body for up to five days, a woman can still become pregnant if ovulation happens after sexual activity, according to Dr. Dana Stone, an OB-GYN based in Oklahoma City. The pills are unlikely to be effective if a woman has ovulated prior to sexual activity.
“Therein lies the origin of the failure. Stone stated that it depends on the moment.
Inconsistent evidence suggests that a woman’s weight may also play an impact. Levonorgestrel may be less successful in women having a body mass index of above 25 according to recommendations from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Some study, according to the organization, indicates that ulipristal acetate is less beneficial in women with a BMI of 30 or above.
In a 2016 study of the efficacy of levonorgestrel in women who weigh more than 165 pounds or have a BMI above 25, the FDA found contradictory data and did not reach a conclusion due to this. The agency emphasized the need for additional research.
A copper intrauterine device, put within five days of unprotected sex, is considered the most effective type of emergency contraception. According to Fleisher, its efficacy is independent of body mass.
Copper intrauterine devices (IUDs) must be implanted by a physician or nurse and can remain in place for many years.
17-year-olds and above can purchase Plan B over-the-counter, however younger individuals require a prescription. Ella requires a prescription.
WHAT DID THEY SAY?
Some state officials, such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott and South Carolina State Representative Doug Gilliam, cite emergency contraception as a rationale why abortion laws do not require exceptions for rape or incest.
During a House debate on August 31, Gilliam stated that a 12-year-old raped by her father would have “choices” and would not be “forced” to bear a kid. Among options, he claimed, were going to the hospital and obtaining an emergency contraception or going to a store and obtaining one without a prescription.
When asked by a colleague lawmaker who would transport the girl to the store to purchase the medicine, he initially responded, “The ambulance,” but afterwards clarified, “The hospital, once she is there.”
In a follow-up interview with The Associated Press, the Republican legislator clarified that he did not want to imply that an ambulance would transport a girl to a store, but if she were to go to the hospital, she would likely be administered emergency contraception.
“I don’t want anyone to believe I suggested a 12-year-old who was recently raped would call an ambulance to go to a store,” he said. I just informed them that emergency medical contraception were one of the options available.
WHAT ABOUT VICTIMS OF ROBBERY?
According to Jude Foster, director of advocacy, medical, forensic, and preventative programs for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the vast majority of rape victims do not disclose the crime to law police. In addition, many may not seek prompt medical attention. Not everyone is aware that emergency contraceptives are an option and part of a normal rape examination, nor that such an examination is free.
When discussing access to reproductive care, why is sexual assault utilized as a political football?
” Foster stated. “No, thank you. It frustrates me to no end.
Stone stated that it is erroneous to believe that a raped woman can just switch to Plan B.
“We need a variety of solutions for women, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” Stone stated. “People have transit issues and monetary challenges. There are always obstacles that prevent a certain percentage of women from gaining access to this within the allotted time frame.”
Several states’ abortion laws expressly permit the use of emergency contraception.
No exceptions are made for situations of rape or incest in the abortion statutes of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. Arkansas’s and Kentucky’s statutes specifically state that they do not restrict the use of contraceptives prior to a pregnancy test. Emergency contraception is not prohibited by Oklahoma’s abortion ban.
Aside from abortion bans, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 21 states and the District of Columbia have emergency contraception access laws, and 16 of those states and the District of Columbia require hospitals or health care facilities to provide information about or administer emergency contraception to sexually assaulted women.
Lower risk of getting stated that emergency contraception does not replace the necessity for abortion therapy, and that these concerns should be discussed between the patient and physician.
He stated, “Those who write the laws do not comprehend the decisions that real people make.”