Contraception causes colored controversy

Katy Stanton

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more rubberized wristbands or colored ribbons to wear, the government went and had to do something controversial. Students, female and male alike, donned red strips on cloth, on their wrists or arms, in their hair, and on their bags Wednesday, May 4. The red strips symbolized student opposition against the potential ban on University of Wisconsin campuses of the distribution of emergency contraception.
Wisconsin State legislator Daniel LeMahieu, R-Ootsburg, is drafting a bill that would prohibit UW campus clinics from providing the “morning-after” pill to anyone. Because emergency contraception is essentially a high dose of regular birth control, this law would affect the supply of birth control as well. Many students feel that this bill presents an arguably severe and potentially excessive assault on women’s rights and bodies.
The main misconception about the morning-after pill is that it acts like an abortion. While it is true that the drug keeps a woman from getting pregnant, it does not abort a fetus in any way. The woman must take this pill within 72 hours of intercourse; any time after that, the pill will not be prescribed. The morning-after pill prevents ovulation and fertilization, and may interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus. Though the two are sometimes confused, the morning-after pill is different from RU-486, a pill- not legal in the United States – which women can take within 60 days to cause a non-surgical abortion.
LeMathiu claims that the “morning after” pill encourages people to be reckless and promiscuous. He maintains that the university has no right to help students with family planning. However, many feel that this pill is not a form of everyday contraception, but one for use in times of emergency. Prescription of the pill will be on people’s records, and that limits the chances of the pill being abused.
Does the government have the right to restrict access to this emergency contraception? The current changes in legislation are leading to more restrictions on contraceptive methods every month. For example, in Wisconsin, there are bans that say that public funds may not be given to any organization that performs, counsels, or refers for abortions. There is also a law that allows pharmacists to choose whether or not to sell the morning-after pill. Opponents see LeMahieu’s proposal as still move evidence of this trend.
So, the uncertainty remains – when does government overstep its bounds? It’s a tricky issue, and it’s likely that many of us will have to wear another wristband or ribbon before our government finally decides when to let the people decide what’s best for themselves.