Women's Health Advocates Have Dropped the Ball On Emergency Contraception

A bill that "specifies that anyone providing medical services cannot be required to perform or participate in activities that violate his or her conscience or principles" was recently approved during its first round in the Missouri House of Representatives. It is contentious, as some contend that it enables physicians and pharmacists to deny rape survivors accessibility to not only abortion services, but also preventative pregnancy measures such as Plan B (also known as the morning-after pill). This particular issue extends beyond state boundaries and is eminent on the national front as well. Recently, impressive advances were made with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). Despite the progressive movement, advocates failed to address emergency contraception during the debates regarding VAWA.

Women's health advocates not pushing for this on the agenda when discussing the bill has major implications. Specifically, VAWA not explicitly guaranteeing emergency contraception to women is a serious threat to women's reproductive rights on multiple levels. 

One of the largest misconceptions about emergency contraception is that the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, which is sometimes equated with murder, and the pill disrupts implantation. In reality, the pill can delay ovulation, prevent the release of the egg from the ovary, or prevent implantation of the egg. If the egg is already implanted, the pill has no effect on the body. Even if the pill was able to act post-implantation, there is no life that exists immediately afterward. When people state that using the pill as a form of murder, they must also believe that every time a woman menstruates and drops an egg that goes unfertilized, she is "committing murder."

Plan B is especially important in cases of rape. Without a clause explicitly enabling women the right to emergency contraception, medical practitioners can deny survivors the opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Depriving a woman her reproductive rights is a flagrant violation of human rights. The evidence of the rape is physically evident on her body throughout the pregnancy. But beyond the unmistakable mark, the woman must also deal with the psychological and dehumanizing effects of the act. The woman is subdued with trauma and stigma, and for the rest of her life, she is forced to live with a child she unwillingly had to birth.

Coping with an unwanted pregnancy is not only commonplace for rape, but also an important issue for failed contraception during sex. Condoms can break and can be inappropriately used. Women can forget to take birth control. Even more importantly, a woman should have the right to decide what happens to her body. She should decide how to live her life and have the choice to determine whether or not she wants to have a child.

Unfortunately, VAWA does not guarantee these rights. Politics has managed to interfere with the scientific world and the realm of human rights once again. The idea of providing emergency contraception has become so politicized that people have lost sight of the reproductive rights aspect of the debate. They are so focused on the left and right divide that the commonalities are slowly becoming veiled in the process.

While women's health advocates did not push for emergency contraception when they had the chance, the battle is not over. Somehow, among the several other heated controversies regarding women’s rights, the topic was lost in conversation. However, it is never too late to act.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Yash Bhutada

Yash Bhutada, a junior at the University of Michigan, is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a minor in Global Change, and recently completed coursework for pre-medicine. He is the Chair for the South Asian Awareness Network, an organization aimed to spread awareness of social justice issues salient to all populations. He recently began writing as a social justice blogger for the Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper. Yash is also involved with associate leadership for Dance Marathon, a philanthropic organization that raises money and organizes events for pediatric rehabilitation. His short-term goals after graduation include consulting for non-profit organizations, and eventually, he hopes to matriculate in a joint degree program for law and public policy. With this background, he aspires to work with human rights policy and law. Yash Bhutada was born on October 2, 1992, in Amravati, India. He currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

MORE FROM

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman was catcalled on stage and it didn't go well

Hall of fame hockey player Marcel Dionne yelled "Look at those legs!" while onstage with Raisman at the 2017 NHL Awards.

How the Senate's draft health care plan could affect reproductive services

It is very close to the House's version of the bill, and would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Jury in Bill Cosby case voted 10-2 in favor of conviction, according to juror report

2 jurors prevented the unanimous vote prosecutors needed to convict Bill Cosby of criminal charges, according to an account given to ABC News.

Florida higher-ed official says "women's genetics" cause the wage gap, apologizes

Ed Morton, a Florida university system board member, suggested women's genetics could be preventing them from negotiating higher pay.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters gives speech to Parliament while breastfeeding like it's NBD

When you have to address the resurgence of black lung within the coal mining industry, but your daughter is also hungry...

Girl Scouts to offer badges in cybersecurity, hacking

Because girls need cyber skills, too.

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman was catcalled on stage and it didn't go well

Hall of fame hockey player Marcel Dionne yelled "Look at those legs!" while onstage with Raisman at the 2017 NHL Awards.

How the Senate's draft health care plan could affect reproductive services

It is very close to the House's version of the bill, and would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Jury in Bill Cosby case voted 10-2 in favor of conviction, according to juror report

2 jurors prevented the unanimous vote prosecutors needed to convict Bill Cosby of criminal charges, according to an account given to ABC News.

Florida higher-ed official says "women's genetics" cause the wage gap, apologizes

Ed Morton, a Florida university system board member, suggested women's genetics could be preventing them from negotiating higher pay.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters gives speech to Parliament while breastfeeding like it's NBD

When you have to address the resurgence of black lung within the coal mining industry, but your daughter is also hungry...

Girl Scouts to offer badges in cybersecurity, hacking

Because girls need cyber skills, too.