In my last post I mentioned I was going to contact the Kaiser Family Foundation and ask for the reference for this passage I found in several of their reports (emphasis mine):
Although EC -- which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse -- works by preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization of an egg or inhibiting a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, medical and legal texts do not all agree on whether pregnancy begins at conception or when an embryo implants in the uterus....
I called (1-202-266-5952) this morning and the "mystery" has been solved. What the passage means to say is that, although all medical texts agree on when a pregnancy starts, not all legal texts do. In other words, this has nothing to do with science, or medicine; it's a legal issue. I'm glad this has been clarified. (Perhaps if they'd change the phrasing a bit, the medical/legal distinction would be obvious.)
One more legal clarification. I mentioned that I didn't understand the connection between federal funding and medical decisions made by state health clinics. Matt kindly provides an explanation:
Federal funds are one method the Federal Government uses to legislate laws that are actually the domain of the states. For example.
There is no federal law setting 21 as the legal drinking age. But any state with a drinking age lower than 21 will receive no Federal highway funds for new roads. So Congress in effect set the national drinking age to 21 without directly legislating it.
So I would assume that the same thing has happened here. Congress is requiring all public health departments to provide EC, even though congress does not have the legal power to make a law to that effect.
In other words, by controlling the disbursement of federal funds, Congress dictates medical care. Just brilliant! Although, to be fair, based on Secretary Thompson's letter, it appears the government is just "suggesting" what the medical treatment should be: Alabama state clinics are expected to "offer" EC, they're not "required" to provide it. Either way, I find this government practice very troubling.