Exploring Human Potential

Is Mitt Romney (Like George W. Bush) Going To Throw Science Under The Bus?

Posted on | June 13, 2012 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee MD

Last year, American women took advantage of emergency contraception in the United States over 12 million times.(1) That’s a steep increase over prior years. What it means is that these women decided to use contraception, albeit after sexual intercourse, rather than conceive an unwanted child. It also means that some of these women were spared the decision whether or not to have an abortion.

Ninety-nine percent of these women purchased Plan B (approved in 1999 and now sold as Plan B One-Step) or its generic versions, Next Choice and levonorgestrel tablets, which are available to women over 17 without a prescription. (1,2)

The pills are designed to prevent pregnancy after intercourse. This works 50% to 70% of the time.(3,4,5) How? The pills delay ovulation, that is the release of the eggs from the ovaries for the journey down the fallopian tubes into the uterus.(6,7,8)

There was some question way back in 1999 whether the pills might also thin the uterine lining and decrease the chances of embryo implantation.(1) But that has been authoritatively proven false for at least five years now. (6,7,8,9,10)

When successful, Plan B delays the egg’s transit long enough for the sperm to be rendered ineffective – thus no fertilization, no embryo. If by chance an early egg escapes and meets a capable sperm, an embryo will form and will implant in the uterus – even with Plan B in your system – at the same rates as if you had never taken the pill.(6,7,8)

Most are aware that there has been a deliberate campaign to move the declaration of life closer and closer to the moment of fertilization. All well and good. I believe in that. Once that sperm penetrates that egg, a plan is in motion and everything required for life to proceed is on location. But if the union never occurs, the opposite is true. No union, no new life.

When the initial labels were written for Plan B in 1999, language was inserted leaving open the possibility that one possible mode of action might be interference with uterine implantation in the uterus.(1) This error has been corrected in multiple peer reviewed articles and by all the appropriate medical specialty organizations world wide.(3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) It has been clarified on the NIH website and will soon be corrected on the FDA labels.(1)

So why are we even talking about this. Mainly because Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, following the play book of the Catholic Bishops Association and multiple Conservative Christian Associations, has taken to describing Plan B as an “abortive” pill implying that the pill prevents embryo uterine implantation.(11)

Finding themselves on the wrong side of scientific evidence, the Catholic Bishops Association (opposed to contraception) is once again relying on scientific denial. Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “So far what I see is an unresolved debate and some studies on both sides,…It’s not only unresolved, but it may be unresolvable.”(1)

Sound familiar. It should. It’s the same tone of denial that the scientific community encountered during the stem cell debates during the George W. Bush administration. In that case, the medical scientific community went silent and did not distinquish themselves.(12) Let us hope that history does not repeat itself.

For Health Commentary, I’m Mike Magee.


1. “Abortion Qualms on Morning-After Pill May Be Unfounded.” NYT. June 5, 2012

2. “How Morning After Pills Really Work.” NYT Editorial. June 8, 2012.

3. Leung, Vivian W. Y.; Marc Levine, Judith A. Soon (February 2010). “Mechanisms of Action of Hormonal Emergency Contraceptives”. Pharmacotherapy 30 (2): 158–168. DOI:10.1592/phco.30.2.158.

4. Gemzell-Danielsson, Kristina (November 2010). “Mechanism of action of emergency contraception”. Contraception 82 (5): 404–9.  DOI:10.1016/j.contraception.2010.05.004. PMID 20933113.

5. Gemzell-Danielsson, Kristina; Sharon T Cameron (March 2011). “Ulipristal acetate (ellaOne®) for emergency contraception: review of the clinical evidence”. Future Science 1 (3): 467–472. DOI:10.4155/cli.11.6.

6. Swahn ML, Westlund P, Johannisson E, Bygdeman M. Effect of post-coital contraceptive methods on the endometrium and the menstrual cycle. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand.1996;75:738-44.

7. Taskin O, Brown RW, Young DC, Poindexter AN, Wiehle RD. High doses of oral contraceptives do not alter endometrial α1 and ανβ3integrins in the late implantation window. Fertil Steril. 1994;61:850-5.

8. Raymond EG, Lovely LP, Chen-Mok M, Seppälä M, Kurman RJ, Lessey BA. Effect of the Yuzpe regimen of emergency contraception on markers of endometrial receptivity. Hum Reprod. 2000;15:2351-5.

9. Wertheimer, Randy E. (2000-11-15). “Emergency Postcoital Contraception”. American Family Physician (American Academy of Family Physicians).

10.. WHO Task Force on Postovulatory Methods of Fertility Regulation (August 8, 1998). “Randomised controlled trial of levonorgestrel versus the Yuzpe regimen of combined oral contraceptives for emergency contraception”. Lancet 352 (9126): 428–433. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(98)05145-9. PMID 9708750.

11. Romney Calls Morning After Pills Aborrtive. ABC News. Feb. 6, 2012.

12. Magee M. How Will The 2012 Election Affect Scientific Progress And Leadership In America?


2 Responses to “Is Mitt Romney (Like George W. Bush) Going To Throw Science Under The Bus?”

  1. Johny
    June 16th, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    I can see that you have little regard for life, which is a gift from the One who created you, weather you choose to accept it or not.

  2. Mike Magee
    June 21st, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    Judge not lest….. We all have our beliefs, but they do not justify deliberate distortion of the truth.

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