April 2004

Emergency contraception and morality: Reflections of health care workers and clients

Simonds W, Ellertson C. Emergency contraception and morality: Reflections of health care workers and clients. Social Science & Medicine. April 2004; 58(7):1285-1297.

In this study, we explore the retrospective reports of 21 US Planned Parenthood clients about their use of emergency contraception pills (ECPs) and the views of ten Planned Parenthood health care workers at two clinics about providing ECPs. We elucidate the sociological phenomena that frame emergency contraception usage: cultural ideology about contraception, sexuality, unintended pregnancy, and abortion. We focus on the ways in which interactions between health care workers and clients both mediate and reinforce such cultural ideology. Our research indicates that the distinctions between fertilization and pregnancy, between contraception and abortion, between responsible and irresponsible procreative behavior, are not hard and fast boundaries upon which everyone agrees. We illuminate the dividing lines and continuities our participants invoked, affirmed, and questioned when contemplating the continuum from potential fertility to realized (and unwanted) pregnancy.