In his July 6 column, CNSNews.com editor Terry Jeffrey decries the Supreme Court failing to take up a right-wing favorite case in which a pharmacy in Washington state claim their religious rights have been violated because it's being punished under state law for refusing to stock the morning-after pill.
Jeffrey repeatedly calls the morning-after pill an "abortifacient" or an "abortifacient drug," and he even quotes Justice Samuel Alito referring to "abortifacient emergency contraceptives."
Just one problem: the morning-after pill is not an abortifacient under the medical definition of the word. As we've previously documented, morning-after pills like Plan B primarily work by suppressing ovulation, thus preventing fertilization.
Jeffrey quotes the right-wing groups pushing the case claiming that "the FDA has recognized" that the morning-after pill "can prevent implantation of an embryo." But research has not definitively shown that the pill works this way, but even if it did, it would not be an "abortifacient" because, medically speaking, an abortion can only take place on a implanted egg.
Plus, as many as 80 percent of a woman's fertilized eggs fail to implant naturally, which would seem to make every woman a walking "abortion" factory. Jeffrey doesn't address that little issue.
Jeffrey also uncritically repeats the right-wing activists' case that "over 30 pharmacies carry Plan B" within a five-mile radius of the pharmacy involved in the case, as well as "from nearby doctors' offices, government health centers, emergency rooms, Planned Parenthood, a toll-free hotline and the internet."
But as the Atlantic points out, the flaw with that argument is that the case would seek to invalidate the law across the state, not just the urban area where the plaintiff's pharmacy is:
In its decision, the Ninth Circuit argued that there are good reasons for Washington not to make religious exemptions to its drug-delivery rules. While the owners of Storman’s argued that they would have been happy to refer customers to other pharmacies, “Speed is particularly important considering the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception and of many other medications,” the Ninth Circuit said. “The time taken to travel to another pharmacy, especially in rural areas where pharmacies are sparse, may reduce the efficacy of those drugs.” Customers also shouldn’t get sent somewhere else when they ask for medication, the decision said, because “referrals could lead to feelings of shame in the patient that could dissuade her from obtaining emergency contraception altogether.”
At its conceptual core, that’s what this case is about: whether religious business owners and employees should be able to refuse to provide contraceptives to women, even when state regulations require them to do so.
Jeffrey, however, wasn't the only CNS employee dispensing contraception misinformation last week. Penny Starr wrote in a July 1 article bashing "longtime abortion advocate" Carmen Barroso discussing an abortion she had that "Barroso said she got pregnant while using an abortion-inducing intra-uterine device, which failed."
No, IUDs are not "abortion-inducing." As the Atlantic again explains, IUDs work mainly by killing sperm -- which is not abortion -- and it could also possibly work by preventing implantation (it's not clear whether it acually does), but that is, again, also not abortion under the medically accepted definition.
Jeffrey and Starr would better serve the public interest it claims to provide as a "news" operation if they would report facts instead of peddling biased misinformation.