A group of U.S. and Swedish researchers joined the fight for alternative forms of birth control — à la Rush Limbaugh’s imaginary slut pills — in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care this month. The public and reproductive-health experts are advocating for the development of “post-fertilization contraception,” which they say is scientifically feasible and would be popular, if someone would only kick-start the research. Better than expensive emergency contraception, which must be taken within 72 hours of having sex (or even the proposed peri-coital contraception, which could be taken if and when someone has sex), post-fertilization contraception would be taken just once per monthly menstrual cycle, “regardless of how many times a woman has had sex or even if she’s missed her period.” The pregnancy-disrupting drugs already exist.
If you’re wondering what the difference between post-fertilization contraception and abortion is, you’re thinking like the politicians researchers say will probably oppose such a drug. But you might also be missing the point. Many existing contraceptive methods sometimes prevent pregnancy post-fertilization, and research says women think at-home, medical abortions are more in line with their ethics and religious beliefs than surgical hospital procedures. “We need to stop extolling pre-fertilization contraception as a good thing, because it implies that something that works after fertilization is bad. We have to stop doing that,” lead author Elizabeth Raymond, a senior medical associate at New York’s Gynuity Health Projects, said in a podcast related to the study. “[Post-fertilization] contraception doesn’t have to be acceptable to every woman … No method is acceptable to every woman now.”