Morning-after poll

The language wars over contraception find their way into a Zogby poll.

By Rebecca Traister
March 13, 2006 5:17PM (UTC)
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Broadsheet reader Briana Hill wrote this weekend to tell us that as she was filling out a Zogby poll, she came across a question that read, "Do you think that the 'morning-after' abortion pill, commercially known as Plan B, should be available over the counter or should it be available only by prescription?"

Of course, in an ever-intensifying language war over abortion, contraception and basically everything having to do with reproductive health, classifying the morning-after pill as an "abortion pill" rather than "emergency contraception" is a serious foul. And no, that's not just because of semantics or politics: Emergency contraception is called emergency contraception because, usually taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, it prevents ovulation, fertilization of an egg and (though this has not been scientifically proved) the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall. There's no abortion here, folks.


Perhaps the Zogby pollers got confused about the differences between emergency contraception and mifepristone (aka RU-486), an abortifacient that is taken after fertilization and implantation have occurred and that can therefore fairly be called an "abortion pill."

Hill, a second-year law student at UCLA who recently did a paper on emergency contraception, fired off a comment to Zogby, describing her fury that "a supposedly reputable organization would send out such an inaccurate and leading question." After enlightening the Zogby pollsters about the differences between contraception and abortion, Hill concluded, "it is irresposible to send out such a loaded and inaccurate question and then present the poll results as accurate."

So put that in your poll and smoke it.

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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