The pro-life principles of President Bush have often been questioned (not least in these pages), but, in late August, the President confounded his critics and firmly established his credentials as the most pro-life occupant of the Oval Office since Bill Clinton.
In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved “Plan B,” the “morning-after pill,” for prescription use. Essentially just a massive dosage of the hormones found in standard birth-control pills, Plan B, taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, prevents pregnancy in two ways: first, by frustrating fertilization; and, failing that, by keeping the fertilized egg—the embryo—from implanting in the womb. In other words, the drug sometimes acts as a contraceptive and sometimes as an abortifacient, just as standard birth-control pills do.
The acting commissioner of the FDA, Andrew Von Eschenbach, had announced at the end of July (the day before his confirmation hearing) that he would consider approving Plan B for over-the-counter use by women over the age of 18. Then, during an August 21 news conference, President Bush declared that “I believe that Plan B ought to be—ought to require a prescription for minors. That’s what I believe.” In case there was any doubt about where he stood, he added that he supported “Andy’s decisions.”
Three days later,...