Just Give Us Our Goddamn Morning-After Pills Already

American women have more than doubled their use of emergency contraception in recent years, thanks mostly to millennials, according to the latest episode of Girls. No, just kidding; we know 11 percent of women have used emergency contraception at least once, up from 4.2 percent in 2002, and that nearly one in four women between the ages of 20 and 24 who had ever had sex have taken the morning-after pill at some point, because the National Center for Health Statistics just released the results of a massive four year study. Gee, sounds legit, doesn't it? Let's utilize this information to fight the minority of high-powered conservatives who irrationally call the shots — based on morals, not data — when it comes to the majority of vaginas.

The report on emergency contraception confirms that all kinds of women — old and young, married and single, from all ethnicities and education levels — depend on emergency contraception (aka Plan B, Preven, or the morning-after pill) to prevent unintended pregnancy, which is why it matters that the federal government make it available OTC without prescription for women of all ages. (Currently, only women 17 and older can get it without a prescription, and many health clinics and pharmacies illegally give even women of age a really hard time due to their personal and nonsensical qualms.) Even pediatricians think teens should have unrestricted access to the morning-after pill, you guys. This is a no-brainer.

But people are still unclear on how emergency contraception works because politicians like calling it "the abortion pill" and whatnot to freak people out. Even the Associated Press gets confused, which is a bad sign. The concept that we still aren't sure how the morning-after pill works is why for-profit companies get temporary injunctions allowing them to block their employers from insured contraception on the basis of their personal beliefs that the morning-after pill is, like, totally abortion.

But that's like saying I believe zucchini is the devil's treat so I forbid all of my coworkers from eating it at work. Just because I personally can't imagine why anyone would want to eat that mush doesn't mean I can impose those beliefs on others. Respecting people's religious freedom to believe that Plan B is the same thing as abortion is just as ridiculous, except imagine if zucchini could also prevent unplanned pregnancies. (Then, maybe, I would eat it occasionally.)

Thanks to extensive studies, we know that the morning after-pill delays or prevents ovulation so that an egg is never fertilized in the first place, or thickens cervical mucus so sperm get stuck. (Science is crazy!) What it doesn't do is cause abortions. Here's a nice and simple explainer video if you're still stuck (like that sperm).

The National Center for Health Statistics also released another study on birth control with some interesting stats about how education and race affect contraception methods and some choice findings that you can bring up in arguments about the contraception mandate:

  • 99 percent of sexually active women ages 15 to 44 have used contraception at some point in their lives, or about 53 million women, up from 2002.
  • 98.6 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraception at some point. Sorry, bishops! Whatcha gonna do about that?
  • Condom use has rocketed: more than 93 percent of women said they had partners who had used condoms at some point, compared with 82 percent of women in 1995, (Thanks, AIDs epidemic!)(You know what we mean.)
  • 89 percent of white women, 67 percent of Hispanic women, 78 percent of black women, and 57 percent of Asian women said they had used birth control pills at some point.
  • Education played a major role in the type of contraception used: 40 percent of women without a high school diploma said they chose sterilization, while only 10 percent of women with a bachelor's degree said they used that method. Women who didn't graduate from high school were also far more likely to use three-month injectables - 36 percent compared with 13 percent of women with a college degree. About 12 percent of college graduates said they had used emergency contraception, while 7 percent of women who only made it through high school had.
  • So here we are: 99 percent of sexually active women have used birth control in their lives. Why do we continue to allow a few bishops and politicians — the vast majority of them old, white men who will never take the morning-after pill or get an IUD or, you know, birth a child — tell us what to do? Fuck the pill patriarchy! (Who wants to make those T-shirts?) Give us unfettered access to contraception and trust that we know how to handle it. We're taking it anyway.

    [NYT]