New York Times Asks Democratic Primary Candidates, ‘What Am Plan B?’
Last week, the New York Times editorial board endorsed candidates in the New York Democratic primaries for Congress. People couldn’t help but notice that Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Sean Maloney, and Dan Goldman are all white cisgender men. New York is a diverse place, especially the districts these candidates would represent. However, this is a pretty diverse slate of white guys. You can tell from the poses in their Times photos: Goldman went with arms folded in deep reflection. Maloney, who thinks Democrats should sound less like Chris Hayes (not a bad idea!), has his sleeves rolled up with his hands in his pockets. Nadler has seized the dignified “Blue Steel” look of hands clasped defensively over crotch. Truly, this is America.
Yes, people of color and even women (!) are also candidates in these races, but the Times editorial board had a rigorous interview process. There was even a lightning round about abortion! Nothing puts us in a game show frame of mind more than Republican-controlled states passing forced birth laws.
MARA GAY: So the first question is, how does Plan B work?
NADLER: By Plan B, you mean the medical —
GAY: The morning-after pill.
NADLER: The morning-after pill. You take one pill. And I think a few days later, you take a second pill. [Inaudible.]
GAY: Not quite. But I’m just wondering if you could tell us, medically speaking, if you know how Plan B works.
NADLER: What you were talking about, I believe, is referring to medication abortion. I think it’s designed to prevent the implantation.
GAY: That’s close. It delays or prevents ovulation.
There wasn’t much “lightning” in this round. The buzzer should’ve rung after he tried to repeat the question. Instead, it was as if Gay was tutoring him for a family planning exam. Let’s see if Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Nadler’s opponent and normal human woman, fared any better.
GAY: First question, how does Plan B work?
MALONEY: Well, Plan B is the morning-after pill. It’s not a medicated abortion. But it will prevent pregnancy.
GAY: How does it do that in the body?
MALONEY: In the body, it keeps it from being implanted in the body.
GAY: It works by preventing ovulation.
MALONEY: Yeah, yeah.
We’ll have to give Maloney more points for this one. However, Nadler wasn’t that far off. According to the Mayo Clinic, Plan B One-Step "contains the hormone levonorgestrel — a progestin — which can prevent ovulation, block fertilization or keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.” It’s not like he said it was a floor wax. This is like when the Editrix's mother was a contestant on "The Joker's Wild" and lost after she answered "porpoise" when she should have said "dolphin." They had to let her come back the next day, and she still got a year's supply of Peppermint Patties and Dinty Moore beef stew.
Next up, Sean Maloney, who also started off by repeating the question "How does Plan B work?” It’s a classic stalling tactic.
SEAN MALONEY: You’re talking about emergency contraception?
MALONEY: It’s a pill that you take close in time to when you may have conceived and it terminates whatever nascent pregnancy.
GAY: Actually delays or prevents ovulation, so it doesn’t terminate a pregnancy.
MALONEY: Oh. Sorry.
GAY: It’s OK. Do you own a gun?
This is a dumb “gotcha” question (in addition to telling people they were wrong when they were not, in fact, wrong). What we need to know is how will Democrats ensure that Americans maintain access to Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception post-Dobbs? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas already has invited legal challenges to contraception access.
(Mara Gay’s gun followup question was unrelated to abortion but it’s still an odd transition.)
Sean Maloney is running against New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who actually nailed this question or at least gave the answer Gay believes is correct. (I’m not mansplaining here. Rebecca agrees she’s wrong.)
BIAGGI: Plan B — OK, right. So that is the morning-after pill. So Plan B is a pill that stops ovulation from happening.
GAY: Yes, that’s correct.
GAY: Do you own a gun?
BIAGGI: I do not.
We don’t know if Biaggi won a new car or anything but she definitely didn’t receive the Times’ endorsement.
However, Bobby Newport cosplayer Dan Goldman outright bombed the question. He didn’t even steer it into a more relevant direction.
GAY: Thank you. Quick pop quiz for you — how does Plan B work?
GOLDMAN: Plan B is a over-the-counter medication that you would take to sort of prevent —
KINGSBURY: Do you know how it medically works? How does it work in your body, in one’s body?
GOLDMAN: How does it work in one’s body? I don’t … I don’t know.
GAY: It prevents ovulation.
Goldman’s four women opponents, Carlina Rivera, Jo Anne Simon, Elizabeth Holtzman, Yuh-Line Niou, also stumbled on Gay’s goofy question. We shouldn’t assume any home-uterus advantage, and maybe Gay should consider hosting game shows instead of a journalism career.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."