“Emergency Contraception”: A Failed Strategy

ecfailEric Scheidler’s post earlier this week shone a spotlight on Planned Parenthood’s failure to reduce unintended pregnancy in the U.S., despite receiving ever increasing taxpayer funding.

Following on his commentary, I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at another element of the seemingly endless “How can we reduce unintended pregnancy?” debate: namely, so-called emergency contraception (hereafter: EC).

1998 Prediction: EC Could Prevent 50% of Abortions and Unintended Pregnancies

Today I came across a press release dated September 2, 1998 from a company called Gynétics (which at the time was based in New Jersey, but is now based in Belgium). The release announced that the their product, Preven, had just become the “first FDA-approved product for emergency contraception that can prevent pregnancy when used within 72 hours” after sex.

The press release contained this comment from one Dr. Anita Nelson, an Ob/Gyn professor at UCLA:

It is estimated that nearly 50 percent of all abortions and unintended pregnancies in this country could be avoided if women had access to emergency contraception.

That’s no small prediction. And looking back, it’s turned out to be hopelessly wrong.

As the new Guttmacher Institute report indicated last week, the unintended pregnancy rate in the U.S. “remained essentially flat” between 2001 and 2006.  During this same time period, Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding increased every single year.

Keeping that in mind, it’s worth taking a look at the total numbers of abortions performed and EC kits distributed by the organization that has long claimed to be “the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider.”

Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Numbers Up, EC Numbers Way Up

Here are the number of EC Kits distributed by Planned Parenthood between 2001-2006:

  • 2001: 458,892
  • 2002: 633,756
  • 2003: 774,482
  • 2004: 983,537
  • 2005: 1,245,506
  • 2006: 1,436,846

Note the staggering increase: during this time, the number of EC kits distributed annually by the “LensCrafters of family planning” more than tripled.

Now, if all of those millions of megadoses of the regular birth control pill were so effective, we could reasonably expect to see Planned Parenthood’s abortion figures go down — indeed, down significantly — right?

And yet we don’t.

Here are Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers for those same years:

  • 2001: 213,026
  • 2002: 230,630
  • 2003: 244,628
  • 2004: 255,015
  • 2005: 264,943
  • 2006: 289,750

During this same time period, even as the overall abortion rate [PDF] nationwide decreased negligibly, Planned Parenthood’s annual number of abortions increased every single year, and by 36% over the course of these six years.

Planned Parenthood Still Insists EC Is “Effective”

Earlier this year, I wrote about how Princeton’s Dr. James Trussell — a member of Planned Parenthood’s National Medical Committee who has been one of EC’s biggest cheerleaders for the better part of two decades and — has backtracked on earlier predictions he made regarding its effectiveness and now believes that the best that can be said about EC’s efficacy is that it’s “more effective than nothing”.

Planned Parenthood Lies to You signI also noted a couple months ago that Megan Kavanaugh, a senior research associate at, of all places, the Guttmacher Institute, candidly admitted in a Reuters article that although it had been hoped that EC would reduce the unintended pregnancy rate nationwide, “so far there’s no evidence that this is happening.”

Yet still, to this day, Planned Parenthood’s website still says EC is “effective”.

So let’s review:

  • Between 2001-2006, the nation’s unintended pregnancy rate “remained essentially flat,” actually increasing slightly from 48% to 49%.
  • During this time, the number of EC kits provided annually by Planned Parenthood increased by a whopping 213%.
  • During this time, although the overall abortion rate nationwide decreased negligibly, Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers increased by 36%.

And yet Planned Parenthood still insists EC is “effective” and expects us to be fool enough to believe them.


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