The Corner

Health Care

Emergency Contraception Can Induce Abortion

During last week’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, one exchange between the nominee and Texas senator Ted Cruz attracted particular attention.

The Texas Republican asked Kavanaugh about a 2015 case, Priests for Life v. HHS, in which Priests for Life sued the federal government for relief from the Health and Human Services Department’s Obamacare mandate, which required that employers subsidize contraception — including emergency contraception — for employees.

When Cruz asked him to describe the facts of the case, Kavanaugh articulated the argument of the plaintiff, Priests for Life: “They said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objected to.”

Immediately, pro-abortion interest groups such as NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights latched onto Kavanaugh’s remark, accusing him of spreading “anti-science, anti-woman propaganda” by equating birth control with abortion-inducing drugs. In fact, the judge was merely restating the plaintiff’s argument about emergency contraception, not stating his personal opinion.

The office of Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) deceptively edited the video clip to make it appear as if Kavanaugh was stating his own view rather than reiterating the position of the plaintiff. CNN, among other mainstream outlets, took this lie and ran with it as well.

Aside from the outright maliciousness of these lies about Kavanaugh’s remarks during the hearing, though, it’s worth noting that, far from being “anti-science, anti-woman propaganda,” Priests for Life’s assessment is correct. Emergency contraception sometimes does induce abortion.

In Priests for Life, the plaintiff’s argument accurately paraphrased the Food and Drug Administration label for ellaOne, a common emergency contraceptive, which itself states that it might prevent the implantation of a conceived embryo, thus causing its death. (Copper intrauterine devices have been shown to occasionally do the same.)

While there are pills explicitly marketed to induce early abortions (RU-486, for example), and Plan-B and ellaOne are not such pills, all three drugs are progesterone blockers and function similarly. As a result, emergency contraceptives can have an abortifacient effect if taken after an embryo has already been conceived by preventing implantation in the uterine lining.

To avoid this inconvenient, scientific reality, abortion-rights activists and their allies in the medical profession have systematically redefined “pregnancy” to mean “the implantation of an embryo in the uterine lining” rather than the conception of an embryo with its fully unique, human DNA. As a result of this neat semantic trick, any drug that prevents the implantation of an existing embryo is said to prevent pregnancy rather than aborting an existing one.

These rhetorical sleights of hand aside, the fact is that these emergency contraceptive methods can cause embryonic death — i.e. they can be abortion-inducing.

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