Some Freebies Cost Too Much

by Susan E. Wills, Esq.

June 30, 2006

Everybody loves free stuff like those "buy one, get one free" deals and "free" trips with frequent flier miles. But sometimes the stuff given out free as a marketing ploy actually harms people. What would you call a business that does something like that? I'd call it Planned Parenthood.

In disaster relief efforts, Planned Parenthood has been Johnny-on-the-spot with offers of free abortions in New York after 9/11 and free abortions for Katrina survivors. Further proof that the quality of mercy is not strained.

For decades, Planned Parenthood has been handing out free condoms. Consumer Reports recently ranked the two Planned Parenthood condom brands dead last (and the only ones rated "poor") among the 23 brands tested for strength and reliability. A foolproof (although surely unintentional) way to keep customers coming back for abortions and STD treatments.

The latest give-away: Planned Parenthood of the Rockies dispensed free "Plan B" emergency "contraceptives" on June 30 to protest the Governor Owens' veto of a bill that would have made Plan B available in Colorado pharmacies without a doctor's prescription. The governor thought the plan posed risks for teens and failed to protect pharmacists' conscience rights to refuse to dispense abortifacient drugs.

An AP story touting the give-away claims Plan B doesn't cause early abortions: "Under Colorado law, pregnancy begins once a fertilized egg has been implanted." Well, Colorado can define life as "beginning at 50 or when the kids move out, whichever comes first," but it doesn't change the fact that human life begins at conception, a full week before implantation.

Let there be no mistake about the contraceptive and abortifacient nature of Plan B. The American Pharmaceutical Association's Continuing Education Special Report "Emergency Contraception: The Pharmacist's Role" explains the four ways emergency "contraceptives" may prevent pregnancy: 1) preventing ovulation; 2) preventing fertilization; 3) inhibiting transport of the "fertilized egg" to the uterus; and 4) preventing "implantation of the blastocyst in the endometrium [lining of the womb]" (p. 3).

The "fertilized egg" in point 3 and the "blastocyst" in point 4 is in reality a newly conceived human who will die in the first week of life if prevented from reaching and implanting in her mother's womb. Inhibiting transport to the uterus also may result in a potentially fatal (for the mother) ectopic pregnancy.

The safety of repeatedly taking emergency contraception has not been proven. Each use (2 doses, 12 hours apart) is equal to taking 8-10 of the standard daily oral contraceptive pills (and 40 Ovrette pills!).

Does putting Plan B in pharmacies reduce abortions? Studies in Scotland, Sweden, the U.K., and California all show no reduction in abortion rates from greater access to emergency contraception. A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman claimed abortion rates dropped 30% in Washington State since its program began, but, in fact, since 1997 abortions dropped 9% in Washington State, in line with reductions around the country without pharmacy access. Even before Washington's program began, abortions fell 3.4% in a two-year period (1994-1996). For comparison, Michigan does not offer Plan B without a prescription, but abortions in Michigan dropped almost 18% between 1995 and 2005.

Next time Planned Parenthood offers something free, just say "No, thanks."

Susan Wills is associate director for education, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities