Student Voice


May 27, 2024


Letter to the editor

Pro-Life Wisconsin ad sparks irritation

March 27, 2008

Can we get a break (make that a “spring break”) from uncontrolled, irresponsible, immature behavior that increases the risks of unwanted pregnancies and abortions? 

In a media-salacious example of the national debate, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s (PLW) Spring Break campus advertising campaign on Emergency Contraception (EC-Plan B) seems as Bacchanalian in its misinformation as the sexual misbehaviors it opposes.

The campaign arguably could increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Pro-Life Wisconsin’s campus newspaper ads state: “Be good to yourself over spring break. Make smart choices the night before ... that way you won’t have any emergencies to deal with the morning after!”

Good points —everyone agrees that responsible sexual choices are safer, healthier, more respectful and less likely to result in life-changing negative consequences.

But the PLW ad goes on to state that “emergency contraception is a powerful, high dose of steroids that tricks a woman’s body into thinking it is pregnant” and can cause “chemical abortions and deadly blood clots.”

PLW crammed as many misleading and unsupported claims into one short statement as it possibly could, but the main and most clearly refutable points are often heard and too often echoed across the country:  “chemical abortions” and “blood clots.”

The latest World Health Organization information is explicit that EC works by preventing ovulation and fertilization.

There is no evidence that EC prevents implantation, and there is substantial evidence that Plan B’s rate of not preventing implantation of a fertilized egg fully explains the pregnancies that occur after the pills have been taken.

In other words, the primary argument that opponents of EC make (we should not risk the destruction of a single fertilized egg) is scientifically, theoretically and statistically head-of-a-pin microscopic.

Weighed against the larger risks of an unwanted, untimely or risky pregnancy or perhaps an abortion at a later stage of a real pregnancy, the microscopic objection should vanish completely. 

Since, unlike many forms of hormonal birth control, Plan B does not contain estrogen, PLW’s warning about “blood clots” seems to be based on their own beliefs and little else.

Again, weighing the risks of a real pregnancy against the theoretical, this argument should also disappear completely.

What will not disappear, and what is impossible to ignore in this debate about possibilities, is the question of why an organization opposed to abortions would discourage women at risk of unwanted pregnancy from acting to prevent those pregnancies? 

Why is an organization repulsed at the idea of risking a single fertilized egg acting in a way that puts women (including those who will subsequently abort an unwanted pregnancy) at a greater risk of pregnancy? 

To a rational person seeking to reduce abortions, an unproven possibility of the presence of a fertilized egg and a theoretical possibility of preventing a potential implantation on the uterine wall is simply not morally or ethically equivalent to an unwanted pregnancy.

The imbalance is dramatically and clearly shown when the woman at risk is likely to have an abortion if she becomes pregnant.

Spring break is a good time for anti-abortion advocates and supporters of accurate safe-sex education alike to call for sexual responsibility and restraint.

Perhaps we can agree to exercise responsibility and restraint in our advertising too.

Opponents of abortion, like Pro-Life Wisconsin, could demonstrate that they will not risk increasing the number of abortions to quench an insatiable desire for public attention.

Lon Newman,
Family Planning Health Services, Inc.
Executive Director