Plan B is a safe and effective form of emergency contraception that could be used to prevent unwanted pregnancies, so of course a group of Republicans has a problem with letting teens know it exists. According to Raw Story, six North Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would remove Plan B and a similar emergency contraceptive called Preven from all sex ed curriculum based on false claims that they “cause spontaneous abortions.”
The bill is an update to existing legislation that requires contraceptive education in the state to be peppered with language about the benefits of abstinence. Legislators don’t actually understand how Plan B works, so they believe it’s an abortion drug and want any mention of it banned from their pro-abstinence, unplanned-pregnancy-friendly classrooms. They claim the ban is based on hard science proving the drugs cause abortions, despite the fact that science doesn’t actually back them up at all.
The bill…purports to use information that is “objective and based upon scientific research that is peer reviewed and accepted by professionals and credentialed experts in the field of sexual health education.” But scientific research has already undermined the bill’s own claim; the the Mayo Clinic has stated that the drug does not work if taken after a pregnancy has begun. It has not been found to harm existing fetuses.
The FDA even approved Plan B use for girls as young as 15, saying:
“The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease.”
So, Plan B is not an abortion drug and could be used responsibly by young people to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but honestly, who cares about that as long as you get to legislate women’s bodies based on misinformation, right?
Interestingly, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC) reported an 11% drop in the state’s teen pregnancy rate last year, a dramatic decrease they attribute to “evidence based pregnancy prevention” with an emphasis on “highly effective birth control methods.” According to APPCNC CEO Kay Phillips, young people wait longer to have sex and have fewer unplanned pregnancies when they’re educated about a variety of birth control methods, but pregnancy prevention programs are ineffective “when young people are only offered traditional contraceptive methods like the Pill or condoms.”
This bill would obviously undermine a lot of their efforts and eventually reverse some of that progress. If passed, the legislation will go into effect during the 2015-2016 school year. During that time teenagers will continue wanting to have sex and Plan B will continue not causing spontaneous abortions.