A Clarification about Plan B

The FDA announced this week that it will allow “Plan B” contraceptive pills to be sold without a prescription to girls as young as 17 years old. You can read the announcement here.

Earlier this morning I read the New York Times‘s editorial about the decision and was miffed that the editors implied that there were no human life concerns when it comes to the use of the Plan B pills. The editors say that Plan B merely “blocks” or “prevents” pregnancies. Such language might appear to some to be saying that human life is not endangered by the use of this drug. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The FDA’s own website explains how Plan B works in this way:

“Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).”

The important thing to note is that even though a little embryo may be prevented from implantation, the embryo is human nonetheless. Thus, Plan B causes the destruction of human embryos in some cases. That is in fact the aim of the drug if fertilization has already occurred.

There is much more that needs to be said in response to the FDA’s announcement and the NY Times editorial, and I cannot do better than what Al Mohler has done. Go read his essay. All I want to do here is to clarify exactly what it is that Plan B does. Make no mistake. It’s destroys innocent human life.

7 Responses to A Clarification about Plan B

  1. Lucas Knisely April 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    Thanks for posting this, Dr. Burk!

  2. mike April 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    i agree

  3. Brother Hank April 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Thanks for spreading the word on this Dr. Burk. You made a good point, and one that Dr. Cutrer here at Southern has made often as well; namely that “pregnancy” has been redefined by the secular medical/media establishment to mean “implantation” rather than “conception” — which is why they can so easily say that a drug such as Plan B doesn’t end a “pregnancy”. They’ll admit, as you’ve quoted, that the drug prevents implantation, but in their eyes, that’s not the same as ending a pregnancy. All terms aside, the embryo is indeed alive, and therefore requires our protection. What is an even greater shame is that the vast majority (if not all) of the current birth control pills on the market have the same capacity to “prevent implantation”, yet countless evangelical Christians are using them with little or no ethical concern. Randy Alcorn makes this point strikingly clear in his booklet on the Pill.

    Because He is Lord of the Womb,
    ‘BH

  4. Dr. Bill Cutrer April 27, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    Of primary importance: from the moment of syngamy (when the chromosomes of the sperm align and activate with the chromosomes in the egg) a new human life, worthy of dignity and respect has begun. Anything that interferes with this tiny human life from this one-celled stage on is abortifacient. Thus, I share Dr. Burk’s concern about availability of Plan B to uninformed teens, and agree that “He is Lord of the Womb”. Plan B is a progesterone only medication, designed to prevent ovulation (NOT abortifacient) or disrupt implantation (Clearly Abortifacient to those who value humanity even at the one-celled stage) Interestingly, progesterone is essential to an early pregnancy to prevent spontaneous miscarriage, so Plan B won’t disrupt a pregnancy already implanted.
    However, to equate Plan B with the various combination oral contraceptives is not medically accurate. The Christian Medical Association with its more than 18,000 membership disagree with Randy Alcorn’s position, as do I in my book Contraception Guidebook.
    There is currently no convincing medical evidence to support the theory of “uterine lining hostility” and much evidence to refute it. I respect Pastor Alcorn’s work, and the physician he quotes heavily is a close friend of mine. Medical science often cannot answer conclusively some very important but complex questions, so any woman considering using oral contraceptives should consider the state of the science and prayfully, with consultation of her physician, choose a family spacing method (should she so desire)that meets her specific needs. In His Grace, Dr. C

  5. Janey April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    I went through many years of insemination with my husband’s sperm to have a child. My doctor informed me that it never clear where the inseminations failed because the egg may have fertilized, but not implanted. OBGYNs do not consider a woman to be pregnant until an egg has implanted. Pregnancy tests cannot detect a pregnancy until the egg has implanted. And many, many women may have experienced the fertilization of an egg w/o implantation without knowing it – she would get her period ontime without ever having a single symptom of pregnancy.

    While I may disagree with you that a fertilized egg is a human life, surely you must agree that its better to prevent implantation of an egg than to abort a fetus. The vast majority of women who would take Plan B would have an abortion if pregnant. Plan B can be a way to reduce the number of medical abortions.

  6. Brian Krieger May 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    Janey:

    I would submit that is akin to saying that we should legalize poisoning someone since, after all, it’s better than a violent death using a gun or a knife. That’s a very sad justification of sin.

    You state it correctly that we (OK, well, I would say I hold the same view as Dr. Burk) don’t see human life beginnings equally. To hear your story is sad. I imagine it was extremely frustrating. But it saddens me to equivocate specific intent to destroy with God’s natural process.

    Additionally, hasn’t Plan B had no impact on abortions where it has been used? I was thinking that was in the Times article. I’ll have to go look it up.

  7. Brian Krieger May 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Does this present an interesting juxtaposition of viewpoints:

    Dr. Mohler:
    No, the main issue in the FDA policy is this — safe from parental supervision. The morning after pill is now a potent symbol of the end of parenthood as we know it.

    Plan B proponent:
    Myth: You need a parent’s permission to get Plan B®.

    FALSE!

    Fact: You don’t need your parent’s permission to get Plan B®. In fact, teens in every state have the right to obtain Emergency Contraception without parental consent or notification. However, if you are a young woman under age 18, you will need a prescription.

    Just interesting, I suppose (or prophetic….).

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