Sunday, August 20, 2006

Translated into English, "von Eshenbach" means "political pawn"

Here's the post I started earlier this week but was too annoyed to finish...

Via the Kaiser Network, anti-abortion groups such as Concerned Women for America and the National Pro-Life Action Center (release downloads as Word doc) are calling for President Bush to withdraw the nomination of Andrew von Eshenbach (currently Acting Commissioner) to head the FDA because the agency may approve over-the-counter access to Plan B emergency contraception.

The NPLAC release quotes the organizations Executive Director (Paul Chaim Schenck) as saying, "According to the drug’s own manufacturer, it has the potential of killing a newly conceived baby in the womb by preventing implantation and poses an array of dangers to a woman’s health as well."

Medically, a fertilized egg is not a "newly conceived baby." A woman is not considered pregnant until said fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterus. It's a zygote, then a blastocyst. It has a few undifferentiated cells, as the blastocyst "moves down the tube into the uterus. This journey takes about 3 days, during which the blastocyst reaches the 8- or 16-cell stage.[1]" Or, "the embryo may arrive at the uterus in any form, from 32 cells to the early blastula stage. [blastula=100-200 cells][2]" I'm not even going to get into how often women's bodies kick ou fertilized eggs on their own, or the implications for other types of hormonal birth control if we try to redefine the start of pregnancy as "sperm conquers egg." Just imagine how many times you may have been unknowingly pregnant if that were the standard. I try to stay semi-neutral while blogging, but I cannot bring myself to blog in an unbiased way about people who think ~100 cells have more rights than a fully grown woman society has invested in.

It also quotes the group's Executive Vice President (Kimberly Zenarolla) as stating, "Sadly, our modern pop culture encourages women to treat their fertility like a disease, rather than the great gift that it is. Making Plan B, a highly potent and potentially dangerous drug, available over the counter will likely only further perpetuate that distortion, and increase the likelihood of physical and sexual abuse of women." She goes on to say, "We must put a stop to political decisions that do nothing more than continue to enable the objectification of women." I know she didn't just suggest that preventing rape victims from easily obtaining a legal medication and tryinig to force women to bear children prevents the objectification of women. Because viewing women as nothing but baby-makers, whether they want to be or not, couldn't possibly be objectification, right?

Anti-abortion folks aren't the only ones playing games with the FDA nomination, however. Pro-choice politicians, including Senator Clinton, previously announced that they would hold up the nomination pending a sign from the FDA that they were planning to move forward on the Plan B OTC application, due to the agency's ongoing delays and their past refusal to decide based on the information provided by their own scientific advisors. A previous Commissioner of the agency (Lester Crawford) also resigned admist the Plan B controversy.

On both sides, it's as though Plan B is the only thing the FDA has to worry about, and politics matter more than sound science.

Seed magazine Plan B timeline
Mother Jones Plan B timeline
How Plan B Works

1. Review of Medical Physiology. 22nd ed.
2. Comprehensive Gynecology. 4th ed.

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MeSH Tags: Contraception, Postcoital; Levonorgestrel

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