Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As Expected, Arizona Restricts Access to Abortion

Governor Jan Brewer signed a few highly annoying abortion restrictions into law yesterday, including a required 24-hour waiting period, a reiteration of the ban on intact dilation and extraction, a redundant requirement that women seeking an abortion be informed of its risks and alternatives, strengthened parental consent requirements for minors, and a self-righteousness conscience clause exempting healthcare workers from participating in an abortion or even dispensing emergency contraception.

Because nothing should give a fundamentalist pharmacist a bigger hard-on than denying Plan B to a woman who may then end up seeking an abortion as a result.

None of this is surprising, as all of these measures had wound up on former governor Janet Napolitano's desk at one time or another over the past few years, only to be vetoed. Despite Brewer's unexpected rational thinking about state taxes in the face of a monster deficit, her social conservaservaSERVAtism is as unchanged as ever.

Curiously, I find myself more frustrated by the emergency contraception clause than by the restricted access to actual abortion this time around. Maybe it's because the exemption betrays a continuing ignorance of how Plan B actually works, which, if you're a medical professional--and particularly if you're a pharmacist--is inexcusable. I've flogged this to death on this blog, in comments on other blogs, in letters to the newspaper, and to random people I meet in the grocery store, but it apparently bears repeating: Plan B is not an abortifacient. Plan B does not interfere with conception or implantation. Plan B functions only to inhibit ovulation for the length of time that sperm are viable after ejaculation. Plan B does not cause abortions. It has been hypothesized that in a very small number of cases, Plan B might prevent implantation, but this is both highly unlikely and untestable, as there is no test for conception prior to implantation. So demanding that scientists prove that Plan B does not interfere with implantation is on the same level as demanding they prove that eating Twinkies or staring at the sun or hopping on your right foot five times while chanting nobabynobabynobaby does not interfere with implantation. You can't prove a negative, but you can predict with pretty good certainty that a drug that acts to maintain the uterine lining will not make the uterine wall a hostile environment to a zygote.

So science is trumped by hysteria, and Arizona women woke up this morning to find that the barricades between them and a still-legal medical procedure have been piled even higher with razor wire and old tires, and some of the tires have started to be set on fire. How's that DHS job treating you, Janet?

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