Monday 31 January 2011

Myth Busting Monday: 'Taking the morning after pill is the same as having an abortion'

So we’ve blogged about this myth before but since I carried out a small focus group last week and found that the majority of the young people (and their teacher!) believed that ‘the morning after pill is a form of early abortion’ I thought it was important to readdress.

Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC), also known as the “morning-after pill”, can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to help prevent pregnancy.  The key word here is “prevent”- EHC does not cause an abortion.  Medically, pregnancy begins when a fertilised egg implants in the lining of a woman’s uterus (womb).  EHC works by keeping your ovaries from releasing eggs, keeping the sperm and egg from meeting, or keeping the fertilised egg from implanting, depending on when you take it.  If you are already pregnant, taking EHC does not harm the pregnancy.  People who believe that conception begins when the sperm and egg meet, though this is not medically considered to be the case, sometimes oppose EHC on those grounds.  Medically speaking, however, EHC does not cause an abortion.

Scarleteen gives some more info on the myths around Emergency Contraception here.


  1. "Medically speaking, however, EHC does not cause an abortion."

    This statement is based on ignorance.

    The whole point of taking EHC is to destroy any zygote or blastocyst that may have developed during the interval between intercourse and implantation. It does this by preventing the zygote from implanting in the womb lining, and thereby stopping any further development of the blastocyst. This kills the foetus at a very early stage in its growth. It most certainly is abortion, and it is caused by the ingestion of the EHC, which is, of course, the intention of the mother.

  2. Link to NHS site refuting this:

    'Medical research and the law clearly state that emergency contraception prevents pregnancy and is not an abortion. Emergency contraception either stops ovulation, stops the fertilisation of an egg or stops a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb.

    Abortion can only take place after a fertilised egg is implanted in the womb.'