By Jonathan B.
On February 13, as reported here, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington (NPCW) announced the results of an investigation into Washington pharmacies not selling the so-called "morning after pill," also known as Plan B. They presented their findings as a crisis because 10% of drug stores in the state chose not to provide the potentially embryo-destroying pharmaceutical.
AIW spoke to NPCW's executive director, Karen Cooper, about their concerns.
Ms. Cooper initially claimed that the goal of her campaign is simply to ensure all pharmacies obey the new Board of Pharmacy rules “which say that pharmacists must provide this drug to any patient who asks for it."
Ms. Cooper appeared to be unaware of the fact that this rule was no longer in effect due to an injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton, on November 8 of last year, who declared it a violation of constitutional rights, and just reaffirmed last week. Such ignorance seems inexplicable since NPCW was involved in the appeal of the ruling.
Also, when pushed, Ms. Cooper admitted that their motives went beyond benign rule enforcement, since her group had actively lobbied for the creation of the unconstitutional rule in the first place. In fact, acting Governor Christine Gregoire appointed a former NPCW board member, Vandana Slatter, to the Board of Pharmacy last Fall prior to the finalization of the new rule.
Some have argued that it is hypocritical for an organization calling itself "Pro-Choice Washington" to be actively trying to coerce pharmacists, to take away their freedom to choose. Ms. Cooper described such views as "ridiculous".
"We don't see that as a contradiction at all. There's no analogy there whatsoever. One is a personal choice, the other is a retail choice." She declined to elaborate on the philosophical and historical underpinnings of this distinction.
Ms. Cooper said frictionless access to emergency contraception was such an important a cause for them "because of the importance of reducing the rate of unintended pregnancies."
But what interest does an abortion organization have in reducing the number of unintended pregnancies? Ms. Cooper laughed loudly (and somewhat nervously) at the question.
While hearing the question repeated, Ms. Cooper interrupted after the word 'abortion': "Listen, this isn't an abortion pill, it's a birth control pill," she asserted authoritatively. She repeated the point for emphasis, clearly irritated at this stage.
When asked if the medication works sometimes by preventing implantation of a human embryo, as stated for example by Dr. Bruce Carlson in "Human Embryology and Developmental Biology," Ms. Cooper claimed that "nobody knows," sounding decidedly less authoritative. "It might work that way," she admitted when pushed.
"Abortion is a Very Hard Thing For Women"
Returning to the previous question, AIW pressed for an answer to why an abortion group would be so determined to prevent unplanned pregnancies to the point that it would try to take away choices from pharmacists in the process – especially for a group which believes abortion should be legal through all nine months of pregnancy, by any procedure, for any reason, at any age, without delay, at taxpayers' expense, and without apology.
This was met with a long silence, followed by a nervous confession that "abortion is a very hard thing for women emotionally", quickly adding "a very hard decision."
Repeatedly during the interview Ms. Cooper tried to end the phone call insisting that there were people waiting for her in a meeting. It was clear these were not questions she was keen on answering. Early in the interview she became hostile and argumentative. After responding to this last question, clearly uncomfortable, she hung up.
As a result, we were unable to discover what it is about abortion that makes it such a difficult decision for women. If it's just the removal of a blob of tissue, why should it be so hard?
We were also unable to ask her what data NARAL is relying on in its unstated but fundamental assumption that emergency contraception reduces the rate of unplanned pregnancies. In a study published January 2007 in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, a review of 23 studies discovered that there hasn't been a single study anywhere in the world showing a correlation between availability or use of emergency contraception and reduced pregnancy or abortion rates.
Indeed, as reported here and here, Planned Parenthood of Western Washington has gone from selling 0 EC kits per year to selling a staggering 120,000, but during this time the number of abortions performed by them has risen 11% per year. We would have liked to have asked Ms. Cooper if she was completely unaware of all scholarship on this matter, or if rather her organization was being abjectly dishonest. (For more on PP of WW see our archive of articles here.)
Finally, if these pills don’t reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and may even increase it, and if this group actually considers abortion as morally inconsequential as a tonsillectomy, what is their true motivation in this campaign?
More importantly, if Karen Cooper and NARAL acknowledge that abortion is a very difficult event for women, why is this the first we’ve ever heard this admission from them? What makes it so difficult? Why have they never mentioned any of the specific difficulties involved? Why can’t one find anything about this on their website? And why do they oppose every single possible regulation designed to protect women at such a vulnerable and difficult time from making the wrong decision?