Fact-checking the false claim that Plan B causes abortions

Since the U.S. Supreme Court voted to oust Roe v. Overthrowing Wade has flooded the internet with a string of claims about reproductive health and what is considered an abortion.

Even topics that looked like established science – such as birth control – were thrown into the mix.

Take for example this Instagram video shared by the anti-abortion college group Students for Life.

In it, a woman holds up a box of Plan B pills, a kind of contraceptive restriction, and claims that although the box indicates that the medication will not harm an existing pregnancy, the fine print says otherwise. She reads from the box that says the product works primarily by preventing ovulation, fertilizing a released egg or attaching a fertilized egg to the uterus.

“Fertilized egg – Google that word because it’s an embryo,” the woman says. “Plan B is an abortion drug. Indicate it.” \

Students for Life captioned the video: “Plan B could cause an abortion. It’s just there on the box.”

But this is not accurate.

Plan B and other emergency contraceptives do not cause abortions, medical experts say.

The post was marked as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, is a form of emergency contraception that contains levonorgestrel, a form of the progestin hormone. The medication can help prevent pregnancy if taken within five days of sexual intercourse.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, medical abortion is used to terminate an existing pregnancy, while emergency contraception is effective before a pregnancy is diagnosed.

“Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse and is ineffective after implantation,” says the organization. “Studies of high-dose oral contraceptives suggest that hormonal emergency contraception poses no risk of an established pregnancy or damage to a developing embryo.”

It can take up to one week to get pregnant after sex. The process involves these steps:

Reproductive health experts told PolitiFact that Plan B would not disrupt an established pregnancy.

“This is absolutely fine print, because emergency contraception can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg,” Kate Connors, a spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said on the Instagram video. “It also does not interfere with a pregnancy because, medically speaking, pregnancy begins with the implantation of a fertilized egg.”

Although it is possible for emergency contraception to prevent implantation, the ACOG says that review of the evidence suggests that it is unlikely.

A representative of Foundation Consumer Healthcare, the company that owns Plan B, told us that the medication contained 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel, “the same active ingredient that has been used for more than 30 years in very regular oral contraceptives – only at a single, higher dose, “and works by temporarily delaying ovulation.

Scientific data shows that Plan B does not prevent or interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg, will not affect a woman’s fertility, and is unable to cause an abortion, the company said.

“There is often confusion between emergency contraception (such as Plan B) and abortion medication regimens (which include mifepristone, sometimes referred to as ‘the abortion pill’),” Foundation Consumer Healthcare told us in an email. “Abortion medication works differently from levonorgestrel (Plan B) and is used after a pregnancy has been determined and is only available by prescription while under the care of a doctor.”

According to ACOG, pregnancy is defined as a “physiological condition of a woman following the implantation of a blastocyst (s).” The organization defines an abortion drug as a “substance that is intended to cause the termination of a pregnancy so that it does not result in live birth.”

“Thus, even if Plan B worked by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg (which the evidence does not indicate), it is not considered an abortion because a pregnancy has not yet been determined, “the dr. Daniel Grossman said. a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. “Once a pregnancy is determined after implantation, it is very clear that Plan B has no effect.”

Our verdict

A video on Instagram claims that Plan B could cause an abortion.

This is not the case. Plan B is a form of emergency contraception that can help prevent pregnancy before it is determined. It does not cause abortion.

We rate it False.

RELATED: Ask PolitiFact: What would the end of Roe mean for access to abortion pill?

RELATED: Tennessee has passed a ban on posting abortion pills, not emergency contraceptives like Plan B

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