Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor

We all live under deadlines. Lawyers have to collect evidence in time for trial, writers have to submit edits in time for publication, and rape victims have to secure their future in time before conception.

However, unlike lawyers or journalists, women who have been raped – or involved in any situation where unprotected sex took place – have to jump through hoops to get the needed tools to ensure her deadline.

Why? Because people don’t have their facts right.

In Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Daily’s piece, “Abortion Advocates Rhetoric is Absurd," she points to the erroneous Emergency Contraception myth that the pill aborts fetuses.

She said: “Though some faith-based organizations refuse to use the ‘morning-after’ pill in any circumstances, including rape, most do use it if doctors can determine that fertilization has not yet occurred. But if a woman's egg has been fertilized, there are now two patients involved, the woman and her fetus, according to Roman Catholic theology.”

Actually, Ms. Daily, you are wrong. There are not two patients involved in emergency contraception debates. According to the U.S. Department of Human Services Office on Women’s Health, EC does three things: keeps the egg from leaving the ovary, keeps the sperm from meeting the egg, or keeps the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus (womb).
What it does not do, however, is work if the woman is already pregnant.

Short definition: emergency contraception does not abort. Thus, there truly is only one victim in these circumstances: the woman who (if raped) is traumatized, scared and in need of a solution. She has a five-day deadline (as that is how long sperm can survive in the vaginal canal), and folks such as Ms. Daily continue to make it difficult to live within that time frame.
In fact, her own rhetoric is what causes absurdities in society, such as the refusal by pharmacies to dispense a pill that is nothing more than a heavy dose of hormones; a super strong birth control pill, as stated by the U.S. Department of Women’s Health.

While the abortion debate may rage on until the end of time, it is vital that emergency contraception be left out of those conversations. The two – EC and RU-486 – are not one in the same, and it is the media’s responsibility to not simply meet their deadlines, but rather, get their facts straight before going to press.