By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President
Yesterday, an Illinois Judge turned over a state rule requiring pharmacists to sell emergency contraception, asserting that it violates a state “right-of-conscience” law and the First Amendment.
How “free speech” has come to be interpreted as a right to deny a safe and legal prescription and directly control the inner workings of another person’s body is an inexplicable overreach, and judicial activism of the worst kind. It is also sexism, as it is directed only toward women.
This ruling represents a triumph of superstition over science. Like the “Monkey Scopes” trial less than 100 years ago, in which religious fundamentalism scored a temporary triumph over a large body of scientific evidence supporting the theory of evolution, the entire premise of this “conscience” has no basis in science.
Some people who don’t support abortion rights also don’t support the right to emergency contraception, and to justify their second belief they claim that emergency contraception is abortion. However, the facts don’t back that up.
Implantation is the first step of a pregnancy, as recognized by the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association and other respected medical institutions. Emergency contraception prevents implantation before it occurs — that is why it’s called emergency contraception. It’s a contraceptive. It’s not an abortifacient. The American Medical Association debated the issue, and after a period of review, rejected the idea that emergency contraceptives are abortifacients.
It’s really bizarre for “pro-life” pharmacists to try to stop women from accessing emergency contraception, because emergency contraception makes it less likely that women who are currently not pregnant and do not want to be pregnant will seek abortions in the near future.
Yesterday’s ruling is a horrific moment for reason, and more important, the health, lives and well-being of women and their families in the state of Illinois. The Attorney General has announced an appeal is planned, and that’s a good thing.