Letter to the Editor: Morning-after Pill
Regarding “Ask the Sexpert” (Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013)
This week’s street featured a matter of reproductive concern. The Sexpert reported that the morning-after pill “is not an abortion pill, since it prevents conception from occurring instead of terminating a fetus.” This is a bad definition of abortion. While she is correct that the morning after pill does not terminate a fetus, terminating a fetus is not a condition of abortion: an embryo isn’t considered a fetus until late in the first trimester, so many first trimester abortions do not terminate a fetus.
I also fear that her claim about conception is misleading. She uses the term “conception” to refer to implantation in the uterine lining. This happens after fertilization has occurred (when the sperm burrows into the egg and a zygote is created with its own DNA and with the ability to grow into a human adult if given sufficient access to resources). Many people who oppose abortion do so on the grounds that, starting at fertilization, a zygote — and the embryo it grows into — is a human person. The morning-after pill does not kill the embryo directly, but it does prevent an existing embryo from accessing the nutrients he or she needs to live. This will be relevant to the decision making of many people who oppose abortion.
Audrey Pollnow '13
President emeritus of
the Anscombe society
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