"Enough word games, Ms Wershler: MAPs Maim and Kill"

Dianne N. Irving
Morning after: a pro-life opinion
Calgary Herald
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Page: A13
Section: Comment
Byline: Dianne N. Irving
Source: For the Calgary Herald
Reproduced with Permission

Laura Wershler is right about word games. Hers. ("The morning after: Pro-life agenda misrepresents the emergency contraceptive pill, or ECP," The Herald, Feb. 13).

With disregard for the health and lives of both women and children, not to mention the objective scientific facts, Wershler tries to discredit pharmacist Maria Bizecki and recent rulings by reframing the morning-after pill (MAP) debates solely in terms of "pro-life agendas," "religious rights" and "tolerance." Why? It's the only route left to her and a failing industry. Enough is enough. No more manipulation by verbal engineering. Those who persist in trying to misinform the public should be held accountable.

Wershler's word games could result in severe pain and suffering for millions of women and are contradicted by vast medical data recently documented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, resulting in that agency's extension of time for its own ruling on MAPs.

The objective scientific facts are clear -- and it is these that should form the basis of credible and just-conscience clause legislation.

Human embryologist Bruce Carlson, in concert with the international nomenclature committee on human embryology, states: "Human pregnancy begins with the fusion of an egg and a sperm."

Canadian human embryologists Keith Moore and TVN Persaud, state: "(T)he embryo begins to develop as soon as the oocyte is fertilized." They go on to address MAPs specifically: "These hormones prevent implantation, not fertilization. Consequently, they should not be called contraceptive pills. Conception occurs, but the blastocyst does not implant. It would be more appropriate to call them 'contra-implantation pills.' Because the term 'abortion' refers to a premature stoppage of a pregnancy, the term 'abortion' could be applied to such an early termination of pregnancy."

Human embryologists Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Muller reiterate the international committee's formal rejection of the false term "pre-embryo" -- the supposed "medical" basis for justifying MAPs -- as "ill-defined," "inaccurate," "unjustified," "equivocal," and "introduced in 1986 largely for public policy reasons."

As even backers of MAPs frankly admit, if breakthrough ovulation has taken place, and if fertilization has taken place, then the intentional use of MAPs could factually cause abortions. Any unintentional use of medications which indirectly cause spontaneous miscarriages -- such as the NSAIDs Wershler throws out there for emotional and economic effect -- would not raise the same conscience issues. There is no "fine line" there.

As a scientist, a medical ethicist and a woman, I care when pro-abortion advocates mislead the media and the public into thinking that MAPs "do not cause abortion" -- thus blindsiding science and good medicine for ideology and profits.

Thank goodness for such tolerant and accommodating conscience laws in Canada, truly a bright and shining example for us in the U.S., where intellectually honest pharmacists such as Bizecki continue to be fired for merely performing their duties to "do no harm" as good medical professionals.

Dianne N. Irving is a medical ethicist in Bethesda, Md.