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Morning-After Misunderstandings

Labels inside every box of morning-after pills, drugs widely used to prevent pregnancy after sex, say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman's uterus. Respected medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said the same thing on their websites.

Such descriptions have become kindling in the fiery debate over abortion and contraception. Based on the belief that a fertilized egg is a person, some religious groups and conservative politicians say disrupting a fertilized egg's ability to attach to the uterus is abortion, "the moral equivalent of homicide," as Dr. Donna Harrison, who directs research for the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, put it. Mitt Romney recently called emergency contraceptives "abortive pills." And two former Republican presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have made similar statements.

But an examination by The New York Times has found tha

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So, About That Study...

Over the weekend, we linked to reports on the presentation of a study in our Twitter feed and on our Facebook about the effect of sex during adolescence on academics, such as college goals, grade point average, dropout, truancy and absentee rates. On Sunday and Monday, the piece got a whole lot of media and internet airplay, even though it was clear few, if any, reporting on it had yet looked at the study itself.

This morning, we were able to sit down and read the study, Sex and School: Adolescent Sexual Intercourse and Education (Bill McCarthy, Sociology, University of California Davis and Eric Grodsky, Sociology, University of Minnesota), which Bill McCarthy graciously emailed us when we requested it, and he also graciously answered a few of my questions about it directly. We're going to have a larger conversation with them soon that we'll publish here, but as that may take a while, we wanted to clear some of the smoke before it got much thicker. It's a solid study with some importa

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What's the Typical Use Effectiveness Rate of Abstinence?

Heather Corinna asks:

What's the typical use effectiveness rate for abstinence? All I can find anywhere, even at organizations that teach abstinence, or say it's the only effective method of contraception, is the perfect use rate. How well does it really work for people in real life? Why doesn't anyone have that information on this method when we do for every other method?

What's the Typical Use Effectiveness Rate of Abstinence?

That question probably either sounds like a really important one or a really stupid one, depending on your view. But I want the answer regardless, and am seriously tired of waiting for it.

As an organization that provides information on all methods of contraception and other aspects of sexual decision-making, we include talking about abstinence (or celibacy, or not having certain kinds of sex, terminology we prefer because they're more clear) as a method. We are supportive of our users who choose to be celibate, in whole or in part, as their method of birth control, just as we're supportive of our users choosing any other method of contraception. We know full well that there is no one best method of contraception for all people and would never suggest that there is.

For every other method, we provide perfect and typical use rates of effectiveness. Those are two pieces of information, combined with additional info on each method, we provide for those making choices about contraception;

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Illinois Public Schools Sex Education Study

I came across an interesting study on the state of sex ed in Illinois today. Illinois, like most states, receives money from the federal government for abstinence-only sex ed. Some highlights of the study include:

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