|Although my imaginary version of Dan Patrick explained Plan B's mechanisms of action above, let's discuss the difference between emergency contraception and the abortion pills.
Emergency contraception, or Plan B, is recommended by the FDA to prevent pregnancy for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The FDA's prescribing information along with peer-reviewed scientific research have shown that it is ineffective in terminating existing pregnancies. Plan B is available over the counter.
The abortion pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are effective in terminating pregnancy in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. In Texas, they require several visits to a doctor's office and, thanks to Dan Patrick, vaginal penetration by a sonogram wand.
In short, Plan B is birth control and does not terminate a pregnancy.
Nonetheless, Dan Patrick's past financial support of a company that makes an emergency birth control pill has shocked anti-abortion activists. According to The Texas Tribune, one leader in a Texas anti-abortion groups called it "a huge blight," and another claimed, "It certainly contradicts the reputation he has put out there."
But... but it's not an abortion p... I give up.
In recent interviews, Patrick has attempted to wash his hands clean of the Plan B birth control — as in contraception, as in no babies involved — mess. He has claimed that it was purchased without his knowledge by his broker, who then sold it at a loss in October 2011.
But — and I'm just playing devil's advocate here — if Dan Patrick plays fast and loose with the people he puts in charge of his finances, can Texans trust him to put family-first leaders in charge of the state's finances? And — again, just a theoretical question — if Dan Patrick can't keep track of where his own money is going, how do we know he will scrub the budget and ensure that not a single tax dollar is spent inefficiently?
Of course, these are ridiculous questions, given the value of Teva stock rose significantly and consistently throughout 2009 and much of 2010, and that they don't make abortion pills.
But facts probably won't enter this discussion. I hope that this scandal turns into a spirited and informed dialogue about the different types of contraception available to women; I expect that it devolves into an Olympic-style competition of Missing The Point between activists who think birth control kills babies and Dan Patrick who thinks he can impose his worldview on everyone except his stock broker. Welcome to election season in Texas.