No young person has ever died from Plan B, but 7 will die today from gun violence

If you are not following the Plan B saga, here’s what you need to know:

Plan B is one type of morning after pill. It is the hormone levonorgestrel. The brand is Plan B but there are generics as well. It does not cause abortion. It does not affect implantation. It works by inhibiting ovulation.

The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The American Academy of Pediatrics feel that Plan B should be available over-the-counter to anyone who wants to buy it without a prescription or identification. This is because

  • The sooner the product is taken, the more effective it is (i.e. if you have already ovulated, it won’t work)
  • There is no known medical contraindication to taking levonorgestrel. And one could take it every day, but since the generic is $25 (at least) the chance that would actually happen is 0%.
  • Levonorgestrel is very safe. Far safer than many drugs already available without a prescription of identification. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is far more dangerous than levonorgestrel.
  • Identification is a big barrier. Not everyone has their ID with them at all times and not everyone has a driver’s license. Especially young people.

Initially, the Obama administration stepped in and went against the Food and Drug Administration who voted in 2011 to make Plan B available to all ages without a prescription. We were left with the over-the-counter for ages 17 and up ruling.

Various groups sued the department of Health and Human Services about this decision, but in the meantime the FDA decided to to approve an application from Teva (the manufacturer of the brand name product, Plan B) to sell their Plan B product on the shelf to those ages 15 and up, albeit with identification.

Judge Edward Korman of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals called bullshit on everyone. The Obama administration, the FDA, and Teva and sided with (gasp) science. Korman agreed that the science says that Plan B is safe and not an abortifacent, but rather contraception (remembers, it interferes with ovulation) just like a condom, so it should not have an age restriction nor an ID requirement.

From a science perspective this should have been the end of the story. But it’s America and the government is cowardly and science is often viewed as witchcraft.

There has never been a levonorgestrel related death, but almost 200 children under the age of 12 die every year in the United States from gun violence, but I don’t see any federal legislation banning children from touching firearms. Every day in the United State 7 people between the ages of 1 and 19 die from gun violence, but the government is concerned about Plan B affecting the safety of the youth of America?!

Mr. President and Ms. Sebelius if you really cared about protecting young people you wouldn’t be wasting tax dollars appealing Plan B.

No one aged 19 and under will die today from Plan B, but 7 will die from gun violence.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks so much for writing on this important topic. You bring a voice of sanity to combat the misconceptions swirling around the innertubes!

  2. My Dear Dr. Gunter,

    It strikes me that the Plan B opponents deliberately ignore the women who die during pregnancy and delivery, even those without medical conditions? While small, that number is not zero.

    Denying a woman the zero risk of death option of taking Plan B forces her into to the non-zero risk of death of possible pregnancy.

    Forcing a woman who is not pregnant to risk death from pregnancy? In that I see the duplicity of those claiming a “right-to-life”, those who, in truth, would deny women the right of life.

    Thank you for your post.

  3. Yeah, but if a fetus is shot and the mother and fetus both die, then the shooter will be charged with TWO deaths.

    I’ve been trying to take apart the Personhood’s Initiatives “argument” about how women with ectopic pregnancies should be forced to stay in the hospital and get autotransfusions until the fetus is viable. About the only things that come up when I put some of their “argument” in a search engine is their’s and other fetus worshiping websites’.

    There is the occasional medical paper on the rare live delivery, some even suggesting that we should not be so quick to end an advanced abdominal gestation because of these rare instances. I have to wonder if any of these optimistic doctors are women who might have a visceral reaction to the risks and consider them to be “real” enough not to warrant the risks.

    Once one decides that a “person” begins at conception, there is no end to the vandalism one can do by defying reason. Every little exception is an excuse to force women to risk their lives and fertility through forced pregnancy.

    These forced birthers are under the impression that doctors lie and the WHO lies and everyone lies but them and these weird little outliers that confirm their obsessive and oppressive bias. So, if they want to believe that the morning after pill aborts, they’ve got an ocean of shared denial to steel them for battle. And Jesus. And God. And misogyny. And a pathological need to control women.

    Everybody else is stuck with mere biological fact and reason.

    (Oddly enough, this “personhood” movement is lead primarily by men who show no particular inclination to be primary caregivers for infants and children. Guess that’s a job for women, even the ones, lying on their backs in hospital beds having their own blood fed back to them because MIRACLES!)

  4. I cannot claim to have developed this analogy, but it deserves wider airing, so here you go:

    Imagine that a Nobel Prize winner who has made numerous and substantial contributions to humanity develops a serious and fatal medical condition. There is only one treatment; he will die without connection of his circulatory system to that of another adult (the “host”), for just under a year. The two people will be literally “joined at the hip” for that time. In exchange for this consideration, he promises to cede all decisionmaking about the pair’s movements and activities to the host. The doctors, however, will insist that the host refrain from drinking alcohol, and advise against eating certain foods. In case of blood type mismatch, the host will be required to take immune-suppressing medications. The process overall has generally low but nonzero risk for the host. The separation procedure will be medically invasive, with higher risk and substantial discomfort.

    Does society have the right to demand that the host perform this service? All notions of personal autonomy would say no. The discussion should end there. “Personhood” is irrelevant. The host must retain autonomy and the right to withhold consent if so desired.

    1. Perfect analogy. I was trying, at first, to take apart the numbers they used to support their “argument.” After some more research I realized how bogus and irrelevant their numbers were and said why.

      My take: Should someone be charged with murder for not risking their life to save someone else, even in the case that the likely outcome was that they would both die? If the fetus is the “person” in this situation, then all other persons should be legally entitled for any others to risk their lives for them or be charged with murder, homicide, negligent homicide— something that can put them in the big house.

  5. As a non-American this always baffles me. Guns are great! Shooting stuff is awesome! Second Amendment WOOOO!

    Teaching kids the truth about how their bodies work? Argh! Sex education? Perversion! Scientific advances? NO! Because JESUS!!

    The case that stuck with me was the 14 year old kid from Florida who gave birth in the bathroom of her trailer, and had to dig the foetus out of her vagina with scissors. C’mon anti-choicers, think about that, because I can’t stop thinking about it. She was then named publicly despite being a minor child, charged with manslaughter and aggravated child abuse, and then jailed. All of that because “god says sex ed is BAD, and we believe that foetuses are. people!”

    One dose of levonorgestrel could have stopped all of that. Comprehensive sex ed. could have prevented that girl’s life from being ruined. Access to abortion performed safely in a sterile environment could have meant this kid going on to graduate from school rather than being locked up.

    America. Where foetuses are people, where people scream about being “pro-life”, yet cheer for the death penalty. Where teen girls are “protected” from knowing how their bodies work, prevented from accessing “dangerous” contraception, but where their four year old sisters can be given “cute” pink rifles as a rite of passage, and as a right of being American.

    And this is the “Shining Beacon on the Hill” that 6bn+ people are supposed to be in awe of, the country that’s appointed itself the “Leader of the Free World”.

    Terrifying. If you disguised the facts about modern America as a piece of dystopian fiction, people would claim it was too far-fetched and unbelievable.

  6. From non-US perspective Great Britain Daily Mail.
    The mother of a girl who died after taking the morning after Pill today called for a ban on giving emergency contraception to under-age girls without parental consent.
    Jenny Bacon, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, whose daughter Caroline suffered a stroke aged 15, condemned reports that school nurses were handing out the morning after pill to under-age girls.

    Her daughter started taking the contraceptive pill without her consent at the age of 14. She died shortly before her 16th birthday after suffering a stroke which left her paralysed and in a coma.

    “We know that young people under the age of 16 have been able to get the morning after pill from clinics…

    “But the fact that they can go to school and be given the morning after pill without their parents’ knowledge is an absolute disgrace.

    “… These are powerful hormones that are being given to children.”

    Her appeal comes after it was revealed in reports this weekend that school nurses are giving the morning after pill to girls under 16 without their parents’ knowledge.

    1. A stroke would not be caused by the morning after pill anymore than it would be caused by Tylenol. Progestins are not thrombogenic. Young people do die tragically and it is wrong blames it on a small dose of a hormone that doesn’t appear to cause clots unless you have medical research that proves otherwise

    2. That’s a big “this is bollocks!” clue in your comment. The words “Daily Mail”.

      They’re sexphobic, prudish, misogynistic authoritarians who want women and girls to suffer the consequences of sec that the DM consider “inappropriate”. There’s one very good way to tell if a Fail article is a tissue of lies – they’ve printed it.

    3. BTW, do you have a link? The most recent story I can find about Jenny Bacon’s stroke is 2004. Normally, if you Google for any subject, the Daily Heil is the top link. Yet, oddly, they don’t appear when I use whole chunks of your alleged quotes.

      Also, school nurses? That’s suspicious too, because school nurses had stopped being widespread when Iwas at school. So it’s either an ancient, dredged up article, or…

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