The three men pictured have a few things in common. One, they’re all men running to represent New York in Congress. Two, they were all endorsed by the New York Times. And three, in their endorsement interviews with the paper’s editorial board, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, none of them could correctly answer the very timely question: How does Plan B work?
Sean Patrick Maloney, now-nominee for NY-17: “It’s a pill that you take close in time to when you may have conceived and it terminates whatever nascent pregnancy.” Oh??
Jerry Nadler, now-nominee for NY-12: “The morning-after pill. You take one pill. And I think a few days later, you take a second pill. [Inaudible.]...I think it’s designed to prevent the implantation.” Very interesting.
Dan Goldman, now-nominee for NY-10: “Plan B is a over-the-counter medication that you would take to sort of prevent—How does it work in one’s body? I don’t…I don’t know.” Welp.
Progressive strategist Monica Klein noted these neat little answers on Twitter earlier this month and, well, they all won their primary elections on Tuesday night.
Beyond being another example of cisgender men being clueless about reproductive systems that don’t work like theirs, you might be wondering why, exactly, this matters.
Plan B is birth control that prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation or the release of an egg—it does not disturb a fertilized egg implanted in the uterus, that is, an established pregnancy. But the most conservative activists and lawmakers incorrectly believe that pregnancy begins when an egg is fertilized and that emergency contraception like Plan B prevents that egg from implanting and that, in their eyes, is an abortion.
This was the argument that Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts store, made before the Supreme Court when it was objecting to Obamacare requiring insurance plans to cover Plan B and the copper IUD, Paragard.
Maloney’s answer, then, was the worst, since he believed the drug caused an abortion. (It’s extra worse since he is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has a huge impact on messaging.) Nadler’s answer was second worst since conservatives believe preventing implantation is basically an abortion. And Goldman is just clueless, fitting for an heir to a giant fortune who basically bought his seat.
Members of Congress get quoted in the news all the time, often without getting fact-checked. If the Times’ Mara Gay hadn’t asked them all this question, they may not have learned how it actually works until after spreading misinformation tying Plan B to abortion. That can affect not only pharmacists who might refuse to give someone emergency contraception, but also people in states with abortion bans who incorrectly think this type of birth control is also banned.
And it certainly doesn’t bode well for the inevitable Republican attacks on birth control. Although, it’ll surely be difficult for Republicans to argue with a stance like, “How does it work in one’s body? I don’t…I don’t know.”