Creative Destruction

June 5, 2006

Woman Blames Bush For Her Abortion

Filed under: Reproductive Rights — Robert @ 1:42 pm

A DC lawyer, aged 42, blames Bush for her abortion.

Her story begins:

The conservative politics of the Bush administration forced me to have an abortion I didn't want. Well, not literally, but let me explain…One Thursday evening this past March, we managed to snag some rare couple time and, in a sudden rush of passion, I failed to insert my diaphragm.

Yeah. That's Bush's fault.

Bottom line of her narrative, she didn't use birth control, she got pregnant, her doctor doesn't prescribe Plan B, she couldn't be bothered to find a doctor who would prescribe it to her ("I needed to meet my kids' school bus and, as I was pretty much out of options — short of soliciting random Virginia doctors out of the phone book — I figured I'd take my chances and hope for the best."), and that's apparently Bush's fault too. Because the horrors of soliciting doctors from the phone book is the real tragedy here. So she ended up having a surgical abortion.

Apparently, one of the concerns is that ready availability of Plan B could lead teenage girls to have premarital sex. Yet this concern — valid or not — wound up penalizing an over-the-hill married woman for having sex with her husband.

No, Ms. L. You weren't "penalized" for having sex with your husband. You got pregnant because you couldn't be bothered with birth control, and decided to take a chance. And then you weren't able to prevent implantation with Plan B, because you couldn't be bothered to make phone calls, and so you decided to continue taking a chance. And your husband apparently couldn't be bothered to remember "you know, we need to use contraception if we want to have sex", and apparently couldn't be bothered to help you find a doctor. This is your joint risk-taking behavior and its obvious consequences, not George Bush's evil conservatism.

Apparently Bush is a risk factor for middle-aged irresponsibility and whining.

Update: She had an online chat today, and the continued responsibility shifting is quite impressive. 

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26 Comments »

  1. I fully agree with Bob Hayes’ take on this newsbit. She tried to sneak past some risky behavior with foreseeable consequences, which didn’t work, then went on to shift blame and responsibility. Stupid thinking. The rhetorical excess is particularly troublesome.

    We currently have reproductive choices available that worked for her, howbeit inconvenient and controversial. They probably should be inconvenient so that she doesn’t take the issue so lightly, as though she were merely changing the coffee filter or something similarly banal.

    Comment by Brutus — June 5, 2006 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  2. A woman says that if she’d had easier access to Plan B birth control, she would have used it. Because she didn’t, she substituted surgical abortion.

    bobhayes moralizes about her conduct, judging it wrongful and lazy and whiny and whathaveyou. But he never disputes the woman’s underlying claim: if she’d had easier access to Plan B birth control she would have used it, and because she didn’t, she substituted surgical abortion. This is the same bobhayes who waxes eloquent about the shortcomings of liberal polices that are adopted with the best of intentions but fail to account for the incentives created by the policy.

    Bottom line: Making Plan B harder to obtain increases the number of abortions. You can remonstrate all you like about the wrongful nature of people having abortions, but when you stack up the power of bobhayes’ mighty disapproving frown against the power of incentives, guess which one will win?

    Comment by nobody.really — June 5, 2006 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

  3. Go read the chat, Nobody. She HAD easy access to Plan B. All she had to do was call Planned Parenthood – something she managed to do when it came time for the surgical abortion. The power of incentives is indeed strong – but no incentive will work on people ignorant of the incentive’s existence.

    I basically agree with her underlying point, BTW. Plan B ought to be available OTC. So should every other drug that currently requires a prescription. But that isn’t her position; her position is that the special drug that she wants ought to be OTC, so that she doesn’t have to go to the trouble of calling the nation’s best-known family planning organization, so that she can be irresponsible without consequence.

    Comment by bobhayes — June 5, 2006 @ 3:11 pm | Reply

  4. That should be, “so that she and her husband can be irresponsible…”. I’m trying to keep his responsibility in mind, as well.

    Comment by bobhayes — June 5, 2006 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  5. Sorry, Robert, I see you as the whiner in this one. No, Bush didn’t cause her to neglect to use a diaphragm and didn’t prevent her from calling Planned Parenthood earlier, but his administration did prevent Plan B, which even the admin’s studies suggest is safe and effective enough for over the counter use, from being readily available without a prescription. If it had been, this woman would have simply gone to a pharmacy, picked it up, taken it on her way to pick up her kids, and that would have been that. No fuss no muss no surgical intervention. Instead, she has to go through hours of waiting for surgery.

    I agree that Bush is not solely responsible though. Her doctor deserves some blame as well. I don’t know about you, but when I have a problem I want medical advice for my first impulse is not to call a clinic I’ve never been seen at in my life but rather to call my doctor. And I expect that if my doctor can’t or doesn’t want to deal with it that she will refer me to someone who can. If she didn’t do that, she wouldn’t remain my doctor for long. Administration of plan B is standard of care for unprotected intercourse when a pregnancy is not desired. He failed to follow standard of care and failed to follow accepted medical ethics when he did not refer her to someone who would prescribe it. These are the sort of failings that successful malpractice lawsuits are made of. Perhaps the Bush admin deserves a bit of blame here for creating an atmosphere in which doctors feel that it is safer for them to not prescribe plan B and giving free rein to those who feel that they need to judge others by their sexual behavior, but the main failing here was the doctor who did not either treat or refer properly.

    People do things that are easy. For example, you’ll have better success convincing people to recycle by putting recycling containers next to trash cans than by sternly lecturing them on their duty to the environment. And you’ll prevent more abortions by making birth control, including post-exposure prophylaxis, readily available than by whining about how someone really determined could have gotten it and they don’t deserve the med if they’re so lazy.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  6. How “really determined” do you have to be to think of Planned Parenthood? When you’re 42 freaking years old? And when you already know you’ve finished having kids?

    As noted previously, I AGREE that “Plan B” ought to be offered OTC. Do you agree that we should extend to all adults the right to select their own medications?

    Or do you think that privilege should be restricted to women?

    Comment by bobhayes — June 5, 2006 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  7. If conservative men can blame feminism for men committing rape, then why can’t women blame conservatives for unwanted pregnancy and the resulting pregnancy?

    Comment by Marcella Chester — June 5, 2006 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  8. Oops, meant “resulting abortion” in my last comment.

    Comment by Marcella Chester — June 5, 2006 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  9. Same answer in both cases: because that isn’t where the responsibility lies.

    Comment by bobhayes — June 5, 2006 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  10. Do you agree that we should extend to all adults the right to select their own medications?

    Depends on how dangerous the medication is. I oppose OTC cis-platinum, MSContin, and epogen. I support the sale of OTC ranitidine, Plan B, and ibuprofen.

    How “really determined” do you have to be to think of Planned Parenthood?

    When you’ve never used PP in your life and think that you have a competent ob/gyn? Calling PP wouldn’t be the first thing that crossed my mind in that situation. Then there’s the question of pharmacy access. In one study, only 11% of pharmacies in a mid-sized city carried Plan B.

    Pharmacies in Pennsylvania did a bit better at 32%

    And in a real shocker of a finding, pharmacists in S Dakota didn’t know santorum about the med or its risks and benefits.

    Pathetic.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  11. Then there’s the risk of making Plan B OTC, which appears to be, well, almost none.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

  12. Then there’s the effects of emerency contraception on condom use: Access to and knowledge of emergency contraception may increase the use of condoms in adolescents.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  13. Plan B ought to be available OTC. So should every other drug that currently requires a prescription. But that isn’t her position; her position is that the special drug that she wants ought to be OTC, so that she doesn’t have to go to the trouble of calling the nation’s best-known family planning organization, so that she can be irresponsible without consequence.

    Irresponsible. Outrageous. Shameful. Whatever. For purposes of this discussion, I make no defense of her behavior.

    Nevertheless, her story illustrates what bobhayes has yet to deny: The choice to keep Plan B from being available over the counter (without a prescription) results in more abortions. This dynamic remains regardless of your views on restricting the public’s access to drugs generally, so that issue seems a little beside the point. The Bush administration had to choose between a policy that would reduce the number of abortions and a policy that would discourage recreational sex, and he agreed that the interest of reducing abortions is really subordinate to the larger issue of opposing sex.

    I commend bobhayes on his aim. Given the herds of irresponsible, outrageous and shameful elephants stampeding around this issue, it’s a sign of a real marksman to be able to bag a mouse.

    Comment by nobody.really — June 5, 2006 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  14. The pregnancy itself is improbable, both her doctors not prescribing plan B is improbable, her inability to find a way to get it is improbable (a 42 old lawyer with so little resourcefulness?), conculding with her passing a “phalanx of umbrellaed protesters” (of course) to get the abortion makes me suspect her entire story is bogus.

    It’s as if she wrote down a worst case set of circumstances for a teenage girl attempting to get Plan B in Washington DC, then to make it more interesting decided to pretend she experienced that set of circumstances herself.

    Comment by Carter — June 5, 2006 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

  15. The Bush administration had to choose between a policy that would reduce the number of abortions and a policy that would discourage recreational sex…

    Nonsense. And incoherent nonsense at that.

    Allowing OTC dispensation of Plan B probably would reduce the number of abortions. Reducing the quantity of “recreational sex” (is there another kind, involving thesis-writing and career planning, that they haven’t told us hedonistic Republicans about?) would also probably reduce the number of abortions, by virtue of reducing the number of total pregnancies. Your dichotomization is invalid on its face.

    Keeping Plan B a dispensary item would appear to be 100% consistent with our treatment of other powerful reproductive drugs. Do you think that the decision to require a prescription for ordinary birth control – a decision perpetuated by the FDA for what, 40 years now? – is a policy decision that is intended to “discourage recreational sex”?

    Comment by bobhayes — June 5, 2006 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  16. Keeping Plan B a dispensary item would appear to be 100% consistent with our treatment of other powerful reproductive drugs.

    Not really. There are no other “reproductive drugs” that are sufficiently safe and easy to use that they can be reasonably sold OTC. To be sold OTC a drug needs to be safe enough and easy to use enough that essentially any person who is not institutionalized because of low IQ can use it safely. Plan B is such a drug. OCP are not. I’m not sure what other reproductive drugs you might be thinking of…Tamoxifen? Methotrexate? Nonoxydol-9 is sold OTC, so it can’t be that.

    Do you think that the decision to require a prescription for ordinary birth control – a decision perpetuated by the FDA for what, 40 years now? – is a policy decision that is intended to “discourage recreational sex”?

    No, I think it is a policy based on the level of risk involved in taking OCP chronically. The single, if higher dose, acute administration of a single pill such as is used in Plan B is reasonably safe. Chronic OCP can result a number of unpleasant and dangerous side effects and needs to be monitered.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  17. So the SAME CHEMICAL is so unpleasant and dangerous that it has to be monitored if you take it a little bit at a time for years, but simultaneously so safe that teenagers should be able to buy it on demand. Check.

    Comment by bobhayes — June 5, 2006 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  18. So the SAME CHEMICAL is so unpleasant and dangerous that it has to be monitored if you take it a little bit at a time for years, but simultaneously so safe that teenagers should be able to buy it on demand. Check.

    Well, that comment pretty much sums up the case against making all drugs OTC. Robert is by no means a stupid or ignorant person. Yet he clearly really does not understand the difference between chronic and acute dosing of a drug. A number of drugs, including OCP and other steroid drugs, are relatively safe short term but can be dangerous with long term use. In the case of OCP, the major long term risk (for non-smokers) is deep venous thrombosis (blood clots) and stroke. A single dose does not increase one’s risk for clots but continual administration over years can. (Especially in the presence of a pro-thrombotic mutation, but we probably shouldn’t get into that.) The bottom line is one dose, even a higher dose, won’t cause these side effects, a chronic dose can.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  19. So Dianne, you’re saying that there would be plenty of time to educate people about the risks of long-term use of this particular drug, and let them know that they should probably consult with their physician if they’re going to use it over time.

    That doesn’t seem to strengthen the notion that the drug is so dangerous that it must not be given out without a doctor’s permission. Don’t you trust women to make the right decisions with their health?

    Comment by Robert — June 5, 2006 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  20. Robert: I think you’re being deliberately obtuse here. No one uses Plan B on a daily basis. Taking a dose of progesterone even as often as once a month (and I can’t imagine anyone is going to ever take Plan B even that often) is not going to result in the side effects I mentioned, taking it once a day is. You don’t have “plenty of time to educate people about the risks” because they aren’t there. You might say, “well, what if some idiot somewhere sometime does take it every day”? The answer is, no drug is risk free and if someone did that they might run into problems. (Or might not…actually, the vast majority of women who take OCP never have any problems from them and could have taken them OTC. It’s just that the risk of there being a problem is unacceptably high.) If someone takes 6 grams of Tylenol every day, their liver might be damaged. Is that a reason to make Tylenol prescription only?

    Don’t you trust women to make the right decisions with their health?

    And I haven’t stopped beating my husband yet either. I don’t trust the average (or even the extraordinary) woman to be able to draw her own blood once a year to screen for liver abnormalities, palpate her abdomen, perform a breast exam, pap and pelvic on herself, and check her own cholesterol. (All things highly desirable if not absolutely necessary for the safe use of OCP.) On the other hand, I do trust the average (or even below average) woman to read the instructions on a box, take a couple of pills as directed, seek medical aid if she experiences severe nausea or abdominal pain, and remember to make sure she has a period within the next month.

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 9:06 pm | Reply

  21. But that isn’t her position; her position is that the special drug that she wants ought to be OTC

    Dang. I missed the part where she said that asprin, NSAIDS, APAP, dextromethoraphan, ranitidine, claritin, and every other drug except plan B ought to be prescription. And here I thought she was just saying that this drug, which the FDA has already declared to be safe enough for OTC sale, ought to also be OTC. The things one can miss by not reading closely. Maybe you could point me to a quote?

    Comment by Dianne — June 5, 2006 @ 9:10 pm | Reply

  22. Access to and knowledge of emergency contraception may increase the use of condoms in adolescents.

    You sound like a journalist. The abstract says that they’re correlated, not that the former causes the latter.

    Comment by Brandon Berg — June 5, 2006 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  23. I must confess, I’m not up to speed about how the FDA decides which drugs to make available OTC. But I understand that the FDA’s staff concluded that Plan B was safe for OTC distribution – a view shared by 23 members of the FDA’s 27-member advisory panel.

    However, W. David Hager, one of those 4 no votes, reported that the FDA asked him to write a “minority report” to the FDA Commissioner. (The FDA later denied that it had asked him to write such a report, and he subsequently recanted this part of his story.) Hager has authored a number of books addressing women’s health issues from a fundamentalist Christian perspective, and is famous for his strong views against abortion and emergency contraception and in favor of abstinence education. And, lo and behold, after several delays the FDA ended up rejecting the views of its science staff and advisory panel for only the second time in 50 years.

    Thus, one reason to provide Plan B OTC, but not other forms of birth control, is because the experts in this field support that outcome. Whatever the Administration’s reason to require a prescription for Plan B, it is not based on the expert opinion on the FDA’s advisory panel or of the FDA’s own science staff.

    Comment by nobody.really — June 5, 2006 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  24. Carter said: The pregnancy itself is improbable, both her doctors not prescribing plan B is improbable, her inability to find a way to get it is improbable (a 42 old lawyer with so little resourcefulness?), conculding with her passing a “phalanx of umbrellaed protesters” (of course) to get the abortion makes me suspect her entire story is bogus.

    This is exactly what I was thinking. I can’t imagine a 42 year old lawyer who is already married with 2 kids is this plain lazy. If this woman really did have an abortion I believe that she and her husband planned to get pregnant so that she could get an abortion and then have a story to tell the newspaper.

    I can see a teenager being too ashamed to call around or lacked transportation to get to a doctor that prescribed emergency contraception but I’ll believe pigs can fly before you get me to believe this lawyer was anything other than lazy or else trying to create a shocking story to tell.

    Comment by SBW — June 5, 2006 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  25. I find it interestesting that she states they decided not to keep “the pregnancy.”

    Not, decided not to keep “the child.”

    Comment by Steve — June 6, 2006 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  26. Because heaven forbid someone actually call a kicking, dreaming, fetus a child. Everyone knows it’s not alive till it comes out. *eye-roll*

    Comment by Chaltab — September 25, 2006 @ 11:31 am | Reply


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