One of the biggest claims made by advocates of emergency contraception — also known as the Morning After Pill, Ella, Plan B, and more — is that these pills do not cause an abortion. Supporters insist that the pills, no matter their brand, simply prevent a pregnancy from occurring in the first place. Planned Parenthood tells women there’s no way the Morning After Pill can cause an abortion, and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) insists the pills merely work “by preventing or delaying ovulation, not by terminating a pregnancy.”
Unfortunately, this is misleading to women, and many women know it. Bustle reports, “35 per cent of respondents to ellaOne’s survey thought the pill ’causes a mini abortion’, while 47 per cent of those surveyed by FPA ‘thought using emergency contraception was like an abortion, or weren’t sure.'” While the abortion industry dismisses these women’s suspicions as misinformation, they are actually rooted in fact.
In order to understand exactly how the Morning After Pill (and emergency contraception in general) can cause early abortions, one must understand the science behind pregnancy. Scientific textbooks from the disciplines of embryology, biology, and genetics all agree on when a new human life begins: at the moment of fertilization, when a woman’s egg cell and a man’s sperm cell fuse.
For years, science expressly taught that pregnancy began at fertilization, also known as conception. It was only when those who wanted to normalize hormonal birth control began to propose a more convenient definition that the lines were blurred. The year before the first oral birth control pill was approved by the FDA, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) paved the way to argue that hormonal pills for women would not end their pregnancies.
In 1959, ACOG voted to change the definition of conception: instead of conception being equivalent with fertilization (the scientifically accurate view), the term “conception” was now altered to mean the same thing as implantation. With this change in definition, birth control manufacturers — and later, the makers of Plan B, the Morning After pill, and other emergency contraception — would be able to claim that these pills would not end a pregnancy.
A closer look at the manufacturers’ inserts reveals that they do still admit their products can prevent implantation. (Notably, hormonal birth control manufacturers and the makers of the copper IUD admit the same thing.) This means, of course, that fertilization can occur; a child can begin her life. But before she has been given the chance to implant in her mother’s womb — a process that generally occurs within six to 12 days — she is flushed out, her life ended.
Below is a screenshot from the Plan B manufacturer’s insert:
Notice the parsing of words here — “pregnant” being used to describe when that new human life has fully implanted in the uterus. But that human life is already in existence prior to implantation and is making her way toward the uterus. When she arrives — according to Plan B itself — implantation may be “inhibited” or prevented, which means that human being will die.
Ella’s insert is similar:
Similar to the well-known types of hormonal birth control, emergency contraception floods a woman’s body with hormones her body would not normally be producing. The levels of the hormones are greater with the Morning After Pill and other forms of emergency contraception. This is not healthy or beneficial to a woman’s body, and can alter her reproductive system in dangerous ways.
Manufacturers and doctors alike admit that women who use emergency contraception are at a much higher risk of ectopic pregnancies, specifically if the pill fails to end the child’s life. If the child survives, but the womb has become an inhospitable environment due to the actions of the Morning After Pill, the child may attach herself elsewhere in the woman’s body, creating an ectopic pregnancy. Dr. Mary Maina studied the risk of ectopic pregnancies in women who had taken emergency contraceptives. She reported, “The risk of ectopic pregnancy increased 12 times in women who had used the pills.”
Dr. Maina is far from the only one to report such a result. A 2015 study, published in “Scientific Reports” noted the increased risk of ectopic pregnancies to women who had taken emergency contraception and yet remained pregnant with their child. The government of New Zealand warns women that some daily birth control pills can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies and warns of similar actions if certain types of Morning After Pills fail. The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, a London-based charity that has 20 medical doctors enlisted as trustees or medical consultants, tells women “ectopic pregnancies are more likely if you have had…emergency contraception.” A clinical review in the “British Medical Journal” directs doctors to studies and recommends, “extra vigilance for ectopic pregnancy in women who have a positive pregnancy test and have used emergency contraception recently.”
Women deserve the truth: the Morning After Pill and other emergency contraceptives can cause abortions, and they can create ectopic pregnancies where the child almost always dies (with rare exceptions) and the mother’s life is also at risk.
However, it is also a fact that the Morning After Pill does not always cause an abortion. The same is true with hormonal birth control in general and copper IUDs. They do not always cause early abortions. They can indeed prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucous, and operate in preventive ways. However, the fact remains that the so-called “back-up” mechanism of these pills and devices is to stop a new human child from implanting, growing, and developing. No woman can know with an absolute certainty which mechanism is working in her body, and at what time.
Women are right to be concerned that emergency contraceptives may actually abort their newly-conceived children.
Editor’s Note, 10/31/18: This article has been updated to include further studies regarding emergency contraception and ectopic pregnancy.