Anti-Abortion Ideology Trumped Science in Weld County Decision to Stop Providing ‘Morning After’ Pill
Anti-Science ignorance on parade again in the GOP.
When Weld County commissioners decided to stop providing emergency contraception to county patients, concerns rooted in anti-abortion politics trumped scientific facts and testimony provided by the county’s medical chief, according to documents obtained by The Colorado Independent.
Board meeting minutes from the summer of 2010 detail how members led by Commissioner William Garcia were concerned that the popular “Plan B” contraception drugs dispensed at the county’s low-income Title X family-planning clinics prevented pregnancy by destroying fertilized eggs, or inducing abortions, as they put it. Garcia cited reports he found on the Internet to bolster his case and, echoing rhetoric made popular over the last four years by abortion opponents battling health-care reform, he said the board should eliminate Plan B from the county’s services because the law of the land bars tax funding for abortions.
No fertilized eggs
Dr. Mark Wallace, who directs the county’s health department, explained to commissioners on at least three separate occasions that summer that Plan B contraception can not abort a fertilized egg. He recommended Weld County continue to dispense Plan B, and he objected to Garcia’s proposal to include any language in the county’s Title X contract that would suggest Plan B was an abortion drug.
“Dr Wallace stated he has a strong professional opinion that Plan B does not disrupt established pregnancies,” the record of the July 12 meeting reads (pdf). “[Wallace] stated the language placed in the agreement regarding Plan B should be medically accurate and should not refer to [PlanB] as an abortive agent.”
Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer-the only woman on the five-member board-was concerned that Garcia’s proposals would put funding at risk and bring popular county family-planning services to an end.
An anti-abortion Republican, Kirkmeyer was sympathetic to her colleagues’ concerns, but she felt the research cited to support Garcia’s proposals was unproven.
“Plan B is basically a high-dose birth control pill,” she argued, according to the minutes from a May 24 meeting (pdf). “Why is there concern with [Plan B] and not standard forms [of birth control]?
“A lot of women have and will benefit from this type of counseling,” she said.
Despite Wallace’s testimony and initial pushback from Commissioner Kirkmeyer, Garcia’s motion carried unanimously. After roughly a decade providing emergency contraception, Weld County’s clinics stopped dispensing Plan B pills. Conservative Weld and El Paso are the only two counties in Colorado where official policy is to not offer Plan B