The FDA got me pregnant

A writer in the Washington Post blames her abortion on political dithering over Plan B.

Published June 7, 2006 1:12AM (EDT)

Does emergency contraception cause "abortion"? That's subject to often fatuous debate. Does lack of emergency contraception cause abortion? This one we can answer definitively: Yes.

Just ask Dana L. Her article in Sunday's Washington Post is a first-person account of the time she, in the heat of one Friday night's "we have two kids and two jobs and no time to even look at each other, so quick, let's hit it right now" passion, skipped inserting her diaphragm -- and then found herself unable to get her hands on emergency contraception anyhow, anywhere, over the weekend. (Ms. L., 42, withheld her last name to protect her family's privacy.) When her doctor refused to prescribe it -- also refusing to offer an explanation -- and other avenues failed, she was left simply hoping that her eggs had reached their expiration date.

They hadn't. Irony of ironies: While her best college friend continued to struggle with infertility, Dana found herself pregnant. She'd long been on medications contraindicated even for women trying to conceive; she and her husband were loath to divert any attention from the children they had already.

Doctors who won't prescribe, pharmacists who refuse to dispense, a Food and Drug Administration fiddling about over-the-counter access while Rome burns: They were, Dana writes, "partly responsible for why I was stuck that Friday, and why I was ultimately forced to confront the decision to terminate my third pregnancy" -- a decision she describes as "awful, painful, sickening."

She goes on: "If religion hadn't been allowed to seep into American politics the way it has, I wouldn't even be [at the abortion clinic]. This all could have been stopped way before this baby was conceived if they had just let me have that damn pill."

And this is a woman with resources: money, a doctor, an Internet connection, a nonrural location, a supportive partner. Just think about who else the FDA's dithering has left in the lurch -- and sent to the abortion clinic.

Related: A reader has just alerted us that Michigan lawmakers are considering a bill that would keep emergency contraception prescription only in that state even if the FDA miraculously approves it for over-the-counter use. We're going to dig a little more on this one and get back to you.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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