Providing women with easy access to the emergency contraceptive Plan B did not lead them to engage in more risky sexual behavior, a study of more than 2,000 California women has concluded. The study did find that women given a supply to keep at home were more than 1 1/2 times as likely to use the drug after unprotected sex as those who had to pick it up at a clinic or pharmacy. The findings led the study authors to conclude that easy access to Plan B, also called the morning-after pill, could reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies while posing no apparent risk to women. The study contradicts a key claim made by opponents of easier access to Plan B at a time when the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to decide on a second application to allow nonprescription sales of the drug.Well, I guess that now the Religious Right will recognize the empirical fact that access to birth control does not actually lead to dangerous promescuity. I expect James Dobson to endorse FDA approval of Plan B any minute now.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Birth Control and Promiscuity
The Washington Post carries a story about the 'morning-after pill', Plan B.
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But the poor little unimplanted fertilized egg! Won't someone PLEASE think of the zygotes??ReplyDelete
The standard pro-life view on the moral status of embryos has nothing to do with embryos feeling emotion, so Savannah's comment is at best unfair to the view in question. According to that view, the capacity for emotion may be sufficient for moral status, but why should it be necessary?ReplyDelete
The study says it covered ages 15-24. The FDA was worried about teenagers in particular. The article didn't say whether it separated teenagers from adults in this study, so it's not completely clear that teenagers will be affected in the way the FDA suggested. Whatever effect there was across the overall group of ages 15-24 didn't turn out to be statistically significant, but we don't know how many people were of what age groups and which people of which age groups were affected in which way. If teenagers would be affected more, as the FDA suggested, then the adults' more responsible behavior may have offset that in the study. Maybe the numbers don't allow this, but from what I could see in the article it doesn't seem as if it flat-out contradicts the claim the FDA was making (which wasn't really a claim anyway but more of a worry).
Jeremy, your worry seems basically to be to point to a way in which the study may not have been done or interpreted responsibly. I haven't read the actual study, so I wouldn't know -- but that's the sort of thing they *should* have accounted for, anyway. Insofar as we trust the study, I think there's a strong case to be made for the drug.ReplyDelete
I agree, though, that this does depend on the study reflecting teen data in the relevant way.
I didn't say anything about emotion.ReplyDelete
Savannah: What is it about the "poor little" zygotes that those you're unfairly parroting have to "think of" if it's not their emotion?ReplyDelete
Jonathan: Volokh points out a couple other problems with the argument here. One is that this is an underminer of the argument but not the position. That seems right to me. I'd thought of that before, and my point was really a way to try to show that, but you don't need to go that way to do it. The other is that they misstate their conclusion, even ignoring that. They say that this would be a way to allow a reduction in unwanted pregnancies without the risk the FDA was worried about, but according to Volokh the study showed that having Plan B pills around didn't reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
I'm wondering why. Maybe it's because they knew they were part of a study but didn't know if they had the placebo or the real thing. I don't know how they did the study, but that would explain that result. It would also explain the lack of change in behavior, which would really undermine the study's conclusion.
Jeremy: I'm confused by your question. Who is it you think I'm "unfairly parroting"? If you think it's "the standard pro-life view," then haven't you answered your own question in asserting that that view "has nothing to do with emotion" but rather with "the moral status of embryos"? If the standard pro-life belief is that a creature is worth protecting, why is it hard to understand why one would appeal to others to "think of" that creature (in the sense of urging them to protect it)? I didn't cite any specific reason for protecting it, including emotion.ReplyDelete
In point of fact, I'm not parroting anyone's views (that I know of). I'm postulating what I consider to be an absurd view (the view that an unimplanted zygote has the same moral status, and the same right to protection, as an embryo or a fetus, let alone a newborn infant or a child), for humorous purposes.