Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The abortion issue - Part I

I was watching the Republican Presidential nomination debate last night. One of the candidates mentioned President Obama's policy regarding the Plan B contraceptive and opposed it, classifying it as 'the abortion pill'.
The Plan B contraceptive as most of you would know is also known as 'the morning after pill'. When you have had a wild drunken night and have forgotten to use protection and are freaking out about getting knocked up, that's the pill that would probably first come to the top of your mind.
The main reason for objecting to this emergency contraceptive is that it may facilitate abortion by preventing the already fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, thus killing off a potential living being.
However, the site for the Plan B contraceptive categorically states that it does not affect an already existing pregnancy.
Some people such as the group Physicians for Life disagree.
I am not a gynecologist so I would advise people reading this to search for information on contraception from reputed health sites or ask their doctors. Anyway, I am trying to explore this issue from different angles and the perspective of public policy making.

I was thinking: True, even if this pill may not allow the fertilized egg to grow into a fetus, isn't that a better alternative to allowing abortion at a later date? There are two possibilities if the abortion pill were not freely available but regular abortion were to be legal in at least some states:

Depending on religious beliefs, economic conditions and proximity to the place where abortion is legal, a woman could either
(a) choose to abort an already implanted embryo    or
(b) carry the pregnancy to full term and then decide whether to raise the child or give him/her up for adoption

Note: The following argument is based on the premise that Plan B actually worked to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting rather than preventing fertilization. 

***************************Begin ************************************************

If you are a staunch believer that the fertilized egg should have the same status as a fetus with a head or even a real baby, then this issue is a closed book. There is no Plan A, B or C that is relevant.

However, if your beliefs are such that an egg < embryo < fetus < baby meaning that at each stage from conception to delivery, the status of the incubated life increases or any variation of this theory, then it is highly probable that you would abort an actual embryo or fetus that has started to develop tiny body parts if you did not have access to Plan B.
There could probably be guilt involved even if you called yourself pro-choice. Even the ardently pro-choice left wing radical would definitely say that Plan B is more humane even if you assume the worst about it.

Even if I were a staunch believer of the former, strictly conservative kind, I would probably be served better by preventing an actual abortion procedure involving killing an embryo or fetus even though it is not completely congruent with my beliefs. The Plan B option is a kind of compromise but a politician can only do so much. One cannot force one's beliefs down another person's throat.

*************************** End ************************************************

First of all,  the chance that this pill would actually work in the manner that is against religious conservative thinking is actually very small. A woman would have to have to be in her fertile period with a mature egg released for this to occur. This period lasts for hardly one or two days in the entire menstrual cycle.

The trouble I see with Republican candidates is that many of them want to stick to their beliefs without considering pragmatic solutions that benefit everyone, regardless of religious beliefs.
They forget that once they get elected, they will have to work with all sorts of people, even those who do not absolutely share their convictions.

No comments: