To the Editor --
Re: Misunderstanding of medical science basis of contraceptive denial
I was quite surprised to read Don Downing's guest editorial in the August 22 PI accusing pharmacist C.J. Kahler of being "extremely emotional. " Don Downing is the last person who should be held up as a dispassionate spokesman on Plan B and conscience rights. A more correct view of his role in this dispute would show him as a very zealous and financially motivated advocate for increased Plan B sales.
Rather than being a "long-traveled women's health advocate" Mr. Downing is actually a well travelled quasi-lobbyist and marketer for Plan B who has travelled the country attempting to, as one Barr Laboratory document put it, "leverage state boards of pharmacy." In an article published by U.S. Pharmacist magazine in December 2006 Mr. Downing reported receiving financial/material support from Barr Laboratories – the manufacturer of Plan B. The public who pay his salary at the University of Washington would like to know if Barr Labs paid for those "women's health" trips at the same time he was being paid by the University.
As for the dispute over how Plan B works and when pregnancy starts all we need to know is what science tells us -- life begins at conception. Mr. Downing's own articles and training documents, the informed consent form drafted by the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and many other pro-Plan B documents all state that Plan B may prevent the implantation of a blastocyct (embryo) in the uterus; thus ending the life of human being (though they always leave that last part off). What an individual does with that knowledge then becomes a moral issue. For reasons unknown Mr. Downing has decided not only is it ethical to end a human life in this way but that others must also be forced to so.
Lastly Mr. Downing tries to play on the public's emotions by saying that "Denying women access to Plan B when requested will lead to abortions." He claims that Plan B has been responsible for a 30% decrease in abortions in the state. Mr. Downing is trying to take credit for something that started in the early 90s. The fact is after Plan B's introduction in our state in 1997 the abortion rate actually stabilized. I wonder if the gains we made starting in the early 90s in reducing the abortion rate will soon evaporate.
When someone obfuscates their financial role in an issue, looks the other way when confronted with scientific truth, and fabricates outcomes based on promises and heartfelt desires I begin to wonder if their emotions haven't gotten the best of them.
(Needless to say this wasn't published by the PI.)