Connecticut contraceptive clash, Take 2

More information on how Plan B actually works.

Published March 15, 2006 6:09PM (EST)

Thanks to letter writer JanetL for pointing out something that needs clearing up. In a post yesterday about the Roman Catholic Church's decision to make the "morning-after" pill known as Plan B available in its Connecticut hospitals only to female rape victims who have not yet ovulated, I questioned the logic of dispensing a pill designed to avoid a pregnancy to someone who could not possibly be or get pregnant.

However, JanetL informs us that because Plan B can delay a woman from ovulating and being impregnated by sperm (which can survive for several days inside her), it can be effective in preventing an unwanted pregnancy in a woman who has not yet ovulated.

And poster Mishima666 directs us to the Plan B Web site sponsored by Duramed Pharmaceuticals and this description of how it works:

"Plan B works like a regular birth control pill. It prevents pregnancy mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary, and may also prevent the fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg). Plan B may also work by preventing it from attaching to the uterus (womb). It is important to know that Plan B will not affect a fertilized egg already attached to the uterus; it will not affect an existing pregnancy."

This is a good opportunity to clarify another misconception -- that Plan B is similar to RU-486 and causes a spontaneous abortion. (The Associated Press article quoted yesterday explained that the laws in New York and New Jersey "include provisions to appease the church that prevent the pill from being given if a woman is already pregnant.")

We could all benefit from a little more information before we react.

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at

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