Understanding "Birth Control"
Did You Know
. . .that many commonly used forms of "birth control" or "contraception" can actually cause an abortion early in a pregnancy?
How They Work
Some methods of "family planning" should give Christians cause to reconsider. Facts concerning the mechanisms through which most methods of "contraception" prevent the birth of a baby are enough to establish that there are grave moral problems which arise.
Do not be fooled into dismissing concerns over "birth control" as simply a "Catholic issue." It is worth noting that remarkable Church leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley criticized practices aimed at preventing or terminating a pregnancy.
The average person has little knowledge of the way various birth control methods such as the Pill, Depo Provera, Norplant, and the Intrauterine Device (IUD) work. Take a moment to read some of the facts concerning the most popular methods used to avoid having a baby.
The Intrauterine Device, or IUD is not a contraceptive. That is, it does not prevent fertilization, the joining of an egg and sperm, from occurring (conception). It does nothing to disrupt ovulation, the menstrual cycle, or to thicken the cervical mucous. The IUD is a device which is inserted
into the womb and which creates a hostile environment by irritating and thinning the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. Such a state of irritation leaves the uterine sVU prepared for the process of implantation when a newly conceived baby attempts to cleave to the wall of the uterus.
Though literature on the IUD suggests that perhaps fertilization may be prevented; that perhaps copper in the IUD kills sperm, there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that sperm are killed or that fertilization is prevented at all. In fact, G.D. Searle, one company which produces the IUD, conceded early on that the device does nothing more than prevent the unborn child from attaching to the wall of the uterus:
"The action of the IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation [implantation] of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of action."1
So, when the conceived child, driven by nature, seeks out the warmth, nutrition, and comfort of the mother's womb, the IUD has essentially put out an "Unwelcome" mat.
Understanding that human life begins at conception, this intentional disruption of the uterine environment produces an early abortion. The unborn child, unable to implant, starves for lack of nutrition, dies, and is sloughed off during the next menstrual cycle.
Some birth control falls into the category of anti-progesterones which can be delivered orally, vaginally or by injection. RU-486 is an anti-progesterone, but a more common one is Depo-Provera (DMPA).
This drug is generally administered by injection intramuscularly (IM) every three months. It is thought that by inhibiting the secretion of pituitary gonadotropin, DMPA acts to suppress ovulation. It also irritates and thins the lining of the uterus, making implantation of the newly conceived person unlikely.
DMPA is not recommended for use as a contraceptive by its manufacturer, Upjohn, though the company does emphasize its ability to suppress ovulation.2
Norplant too is an anti-progesterone drug which is increasingly popular despite significant risks which are associated with it.3 The drug is encased in five or six flexible closed capsules, or rods, which are surgically implanted beneath the skin.
Again, pregnancy is either avoided through the suppression of ovulation, or, should ovulation occur, an irritation to the uterine wall prevents placental implantation of the child.
The Pill is called an oral contraceptive, implying that conception is prevented. However, actual prevention of pregnancy is only true for two of its three mechanisms. The three mechanisms are briefly indicated in this quote from the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR):
"Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of osculation, other alterations in the genital tract, including changes in the cervical mucous (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus) and the endometrium (which may reduce the likelihood of implantation) may also contribute to contraceptive [sic] effectiveness. "4
So, to summarize, the mechanisms by which the Pill can prevent the birth of a baby are:
1.) Inhibiting ovulation, and thus preventing fertilization from ever occurring.
2.) Thickening the cervical mucous, thereby making it more difficult for sperm cells to travel into the uterus, and reducing the chance that fertilization might occur.
But should there be what the medical literature refers to as a "breakthrough ovulation" (a failure to prevent ovulation) and a resulting pregnancy (fertilization), the Pill also performs a function similar to the IUD. The Pill too provides a chemical mechanism which makes the uterus a hostile environment by:
3.) Changing the endometrium, thinning it, so that implantation does not occur. The unborn child is aborted.
In the end, it does exactly the same work as the much publicized abortion pill, RU-486.
This information is not new. And the disruption which causes early chemical abortion is not limited to a few types of the Pills. With all of the oral contraceptives, it is estimated that the abortion-causing mechanism comes into play between 2% and 10% of the time. In fact, the "minipills" which have no estrogen allow ovulation to take place 40-60% of the time.5
Still, drug companies elect to call their products "contraceptive ."
What DoesThis Mean?
Calling these methods "contraceptive" is deceptive. Such deception has meant that many Christians who would not ever consider terminating a pregnancy through one of the methods of surgical abortion are unknowingly using methods of birth control which, at least 2% to 10% of the time, may be taking the life of a newly conceived child.
How Should We Then Live?
Dr. Bogomir Kuhar, a pharmacist concerned about chemical abortion, has calculated that combining all forms of induced abortion—IUD, injectibles like Depo-Provera, implants such as Norplant, the Pill, and surgical—between 9.6 and 13.4 million pregnancies—young lives—are terminated in the United States each year.
Many people have wondered why the church has seemed to have so little effect when it comes to stopping legal abortion in America. Is it possible that, knowingly or unknowingly, "contraceptive" practices used by Christians have robbed the Church of her moral authority to speak against abortion?
When we, as Christians declare the biblical truth that human life begins at conception, and that we oppose abortion, we must be consistent. We must not compromise by refusing to address methods of birth control which result in an abortion.
Not only are we accountable for applying truth in our own lives, as Christian counselors and leaders, we need to share what we know.
We need to stop promoting the world's view of "family planning."
Our premarital counseling should address the abortion risk inherent in these popular methods of birth control.
Christian couples are entitled to know that some methods of birth control can be deadly for their unborn children.
Foot Notes :
1. Searle Laboratones,"For the Patient: CU-7 brand of Intrauterine Copper Contraceptive,'' Chicago: G.D. Searle Co., August I,1977, Pgs.7-9
2. Physicians Desk Reference,1996, Depo-Proverat' Pg.2417-2418
3. As of 8/96 over 68 federal lawsuits against Norplant's maker, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories,have been consolidated inTexas alone. Norplant is linked with loss of vision, migraines, brain tumors,and are often difficult to remove because of a tendency for the capsules to migrate in the body.
4. Physician's Desk Reference,1996, see, for example, Demulen(b and other Searle birth control drugs, Pgs.2201 -2220
5. David Sterns, M.D., et al.,The Birth Control Game: Gambling With Life, Pg.2, ALL publ., Stafford,1990
6. Lawrence Roberge,The Cost of Abortion, Pg.7, FourWinds, LaGrange,GA.1995
© 1997 Advocates for Life Ministries