1.25.2008

Contraception Discussions

Discussing contraception with a group of pastors recently, I was amazed at the lack of information they had as to the abortifacient nature of hormonal contraceptives. It was of great interest to them for me to describe the triphasic nature of hormonal contraceptives.

Amazingly, most people still do not know that prevention of implantation is one of the three actions the use of hormonal contraceptives relies upon. Here we are no longer discussing contraception, but rather abortion. Most people who use hormonal contraceptive are unaware that they are to some extent relying upon abortion as one of the modes of this form of birth control.

On the other hand, some who know about the triphasic claims of hormonal contraceptives try to deny the third phase of action that the drug manufacturers advertise about their products. They say there is not enough evidence that this third phase exists. In contradiction to this, fertility experts would be the first to admit to the abortifacient action. Hormonal contraceptives are known to thin the endometrium to a thickness which is considered inhospitable to implantation - a thickness fertility experts would consider a serious impediment to retaining a successful pregnancy. Why this information is still so little known is a mystery to me.

The other thing this discussion with pastors brought out is why so many pro-lifers are so intent on identifying the exact scientifically defined moment at which life begins. It seems to me that the only reason to do this is to identify the point before which we might feel free to interfere with God's procreative purpose of marriage. How pro-life is that?

3 comments:

Christopher said...

this is exactly correct... while not talking about contraception, but abortion, i made similar points in my most recent post.
to discuss the last point made, i think people become so intent on figuring out exactly the point of life to try and justify their acts, especially with the use of most chemical contraceptives.
it is an attempt to relieve some guilt from seperating the natural purposes of marriage and sex.

Geometricus said...

The reason that the abortifacient nature of the pill is not well known is obvious.

Doctors lie about it. To themselves and to their female patients. When confronted with direct evidence, they deny, obfuscate, blur the issue and try to change the subject. Have you not had that experience?

This assists women and their husbands or "partners" lying to themselves and denying this important fact about the oral contraceptive so that they feel justified in continuing to take the pill.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Geometricus,

I agree that there is a certain amount of lying going on. However, I honestly believe that there is also a large amount of ignorance. I know this firstly because of the number of people who have thanked me for informing them of the truth. Yes, Doctors lie. They even lie to themselves. But many of them simply are unaware of this potential effect of hormonal contraceptives. Some of this is because their professors lied to them. But some of this is simply plain ignorance. This study is something that every doctor who prescribes contraceptives, and everyone who uses them, should read: Postfertilization Effects of Oral Contraceptives and their Relationship to Informed Consent.

Here is the author's personal comment which was printed at the end of the above study in the Archives of Family Medicine:

I have prescribed “the Pill” since 1978. My wife and I used the Pill for years, having no moral concerns about it. Then, in 1995 my friend and practice partner John Hartman, MD, showed me a patient information brochure — given to him by a friend — that claimed the Pill had a postfertilization effect causing “ . . . the unrecognized loss of preborn children.” John asked me if I had ever heard of such a thing. I had not. I did read the brochure and its claims seemed to be outlandish, excessive, and inaccurate. So, I decided to begin a literature search to disprove these claims to my partner, myself, and any patients who might ask about it. The more research I did, the more concerned I became about my findings. I called researchers around the country and interviewed them. During this process I met Joe Stanford, MD. Joe volunteered to assist in the research that ultimately became this systematic review. We were concerned enough about our findings and about the fact that so many of our colleagues and patients seemed to share our ignorance about this potential effect that we presented the preliminary results of our research at a number of research forums, just to see if we were off base. Most of the reviewers suggested that, although this evidence was new to them (as it was to us), it seemed accurate and not off target. Furthermore, several said that they thought it would change the way family physicians informed their patients about the Pill and its potential effects.

The most difficult part of this research was deciding how to apply it to my practice. I discussed it with my partners, my patients, ethicists I know and respect, and pastors in my community. I studied the ethical principle of double effect and discussed the issue with religious physicians of several faiths. Finally, after many months of debate and prayer, I decided in 1998 to no longer prescribe the Pill. As a family physician, my career has been committed to family care from conception to death. Since the evidence indicated to me that the Pill could have a postfertilization effect, I felt I could no longer, in good conscience, prescribe it — especially since viable alternatives are available. The support and encouragement that my partners, staff, and patients have given me has been unexpectedly affirming. It seems that my patients have appreciated the information I have given them. Many have been surprised or even shocked (as I was) to learn about this potential effect. Many of my patients have chosen to continue taking the Pill, and we have physicians in our practice and community who will prescribe it for them. Patients who take the Pill tell me that they are much more careful with their compliance. Others have chosen other birth control options — especially one of the modern methods of natural family planning. So, this is research that has changed my soul and my practice. It has been an extraordinarily difficult issue with which I have had to wrestle. I suspect it will be so for many who thoughtfully read and consider the evidence contained in this review.


Walter L. Larimore, MD
Kissimmee, Fla

As a side note, one of the OBGYNs in the practice my wife is seeing for prenatal care recently counseled her to consider using some form of birth control after this (our ninth) pregnancy. He had read in her history that she doesn't believe in using contraception. He tried to scare her with concerns about a "logarithmic increase" in risks to the mother and baby after 40. This not only made my wife angry, it also made her worried for our baby, because she already IS over 40! Just one more example of the anti-family attitude of many doctors.