OB-GYN Fact-Checks New York Times ‘Sex Ed’ Quiz, Finds Many Errors

The New York Times on Thursday published a “Sex Ed” quiz on “key concepts every person should know in a post-Roe era.” It contained numerous pieces of false information about fertility, contraceptives, abortions and more. Here are their answers checked by an OB-GYN.

Question 1: Do doctors usually start counting pregnancies from what point?

  • Fertilization.
  • Implantation.
  • The day a woman started her last period.
  • The last time a woman had intercourse.

This answer is correct.

Question 2: Can you count on a vasectomy being reversible?

This answer is correct.

Question 3: What is the difference between an embryo and a fetus?

  • An embryo and a fetus are the same thing.
  • The embryonic stage is early in pregnancy – by about 10 weeks.
  • A fetus is created only when the egg is fertilized.

This answer is correct.

Question 4: When is sex most likely to become pregnant?

  • Shortly before or on the day of ovulation.
  • While a woman is on her period.
  • Shortly after a woman’s period ends.

This answer is correct.

Question 5: Is it still legal for a woman to fasten her tubes in America?

This answer is correct.

Question 6: What is the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage?

  • Abortions involve pills or a surgical procedure; miscarriages resolve on their own.
  • Abortions are for unwanted pregnancies, miscarriages occur for wanted pregnancies.
  • Abortions are induced; miscarriages happen spontaneously.

This question did not list a correct answer.

In a miscarriage, the baby died spontaneously. In an electively-induced abortion, the baby is intentionally killed during the process of abortion, as the purpose of each electively-induced abortion is to produce a dead baby. It is the product that the abortion is paid to produce.

A clear illustration of this fact is that, after viability, there is a “failed abortion” when the baby is born alive. The separation of the mother from her fetus did not fail. What “failed” is that the baby “failed” to die.

Both an elective-induced abortion and a miscarriage can leave tissue inside, which must be removed by a procedure known as a D&C (dilation and curettage). But doing a D&C for preserved tissue is not an abortion.

Question 7: Can a woman have a miscarriage and not know it?

This answer is correct.

Question 8: What is the most common cause of miscarriage?

  • Powerful exercise.
  • Tension.
  • Random chromosomal abnormality.

This answer is correct.

Question 9: How soon can a woman typically find out if she is pregnant?

  • Immediately after she had sex.
  • After her period is late.
  • A few days after you had sex.

This answer is correct.

Question 10: What does Plan B do?

  • Prevent ovulation.
  • Kill sperm.
  • Causes an abortion.

This question also does not have the correct answer.

The correct answer is that the mechanism of action of Plan B depends on when in a woman’s cycle she takes Plan B. If taken during her period or shortly thereafter, Plan B does nothing. If taken 4 days to 2 days before egg release, the Plan B may delay egg release.

If taken one day before egg release, Plan B may interfere with the woman’s body’s ability to make progesterone at the right time, and may therefore interfere with the development of her uterine lining and inhibit implantation.

If taken after egg release, Plan B does not seem to be doing anything.

Question 11: Which of these is the most effective form of birth control?

  • Fertility awareness / natural family planning
  • an IUD
  • The pill
  • Spermicide
  • Withdrawal
  • Condoms

This question also has debatable answers, depending on which study is looked at, whether the study reports “perfect use” or “normal use”, how obese a woman is, when the IUD was placed, and so on. The top three for effectiveness are IUD, the Pill (but depends on which formulation of the pill), and fertility awareness.

Spermicide alone, condoms alone and withdrawal alone are much less effective.

Question 12: Which of these is the most effective form of male birth control?

  • The male birth control pill.
  • Condoms.
  • Women can control ejaculation in the body.

This question also does not have a correct answer, as the most effective form of male birth control is vasectomy.

Question 13: Should an abortion take place at an abortion clinic?

This answer is correct.

Question 14: What is an ectopic pregnancy?

  • When the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus.
  • When a fertilized egg is pushed out of the uterus and has to be re-implanted.
  • Spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the 20th week.

This question itself is scientifically incorrect, as there is no such entity as a “fertilized egg”. There is sperm and there are eggs. Once the sperm cell membrane and the egg cell membrane fuse (fertilization), then the entity being created is a unicellular embryo called a “zygote”.

That one-cell embryo becomes a two-cell embryo then a four-cell embryo, then continues to divide to become a blastocyst, which continues to implant and grow into a fetus, a newborn, a toddler, and an adult, etc. is an ongoing existence.

An “ectopic pregnancy” is when the embryo is implanted anywhere other than inside the uterine lining.

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