1.28.2008

Procreation Euphemisms


We often complain that "Pro-Choice" is just a euphemism for "Pro-Abortion." However, I'd suggest that the "Pro-Life" group is just as guilty of misusing terms. I believe it would be more accurate to call the "Pro-Life" group "Anti-Abortion." You see, to me "Pro-Life" means you are in favor of procreation. But I'd be willing to bet that the majority of those who claim to be "Pro-Life" are actually "Pro-Contraception."

Certain contraceptors would be correct to call themselves "Anti-Abortion" but not "Pro-Life." They are "Pro-Life" only in the sense that they don't believe in murder. They are in favor of preserving life. But they are not necessarily in favor of life beginning in the first place. More often than not, they actually suggest various forms of contraception in order to reduce abortion numbers. "Contraception" means "against conception" (i.e. against procreation). These Anti-Abortionists really are just simply against murder. "Don't murder a person," they say. "Instead, you should prevent the person from even being conceived!"

You see, both abortion and contraception are "Anti-Procreation." In fact, most of the birth control measures used by people are themselves abortifacient. The "pill" and all other hormonal birth control methods, not to mention the IUD, depend at least to some degree on abortion to successfully prevent birth. People who use these are being inconsistent (or just plain ignorant) when they claim to be Anti-Abortion.

In fact, those of us who are truly "Pro-Life" could be called "Anti-Contraception." But that's a double negative (anti-anti-conception). And Pro-Procreation is a double positive. We should be the ones to claim the term "Pro-Life." The Anti-Abortionists and Anti-Euthenasia folks will just have to accept this. We are with them in their battles against abortion and euthenasia, but they shouldn't pretend to be Pro-Life if they're not.

16 comments:

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

In fact, the best approach to the subject of this blog is not to go against contraception, but rather to take the pro-life approach! Talking about the blessings of babies makes one wonder why anyone would want to prevent the conception of one.

Blessings! (pun intended)

Devona said...

I'd like to try to start a movement of Pro-Pro-Creation. A double positive is really happy.

:)

Monique said...

I was told by my catholic OBGYN that the "copper" IUD is not abortive and that's why she uses it. The other IUD (can't remember the name) is, but the copper is not. Can you explain to me why you believe the IUD is abortive and give me information that I can look up. Thank you.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Devona, Go for it!

Monique,

Thanks for the question.

It has been suggested by some that a foreign-body reaction in the uterine cavity to an IUD causes cellular and biochemical changes that may be toxic to sperm and that copper may also be toxic to sperm.

These proposed effects are not proven in any studies I have read, are contradicted by all the reliable studies I've read, and are not to my knowledge even proposed by manufacturers of these devices to be the main mode of action. Some of the more recent devices have incorporated active chemicals such as progesterone or copper which slowly release and react locally to contribute to birth control efficiency. But these are claimed as additive effects, not the main effect.

An IUD does little or nothing to interfere with sperm migration or fertilization (as evidenced by the failures described below). The IUD achieves its birth control effect primarily by preventing implantation, and is thus an abortifacient.

According the American Medical Association Committee on Human Reproduction, "the action of the IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of the action." [American Medical Association Committee on Human Reproduction "Evaluation of intrauterine contraceptive devices," "Journal of the American Medical Association," 199:9, February 27, 1967, 155.]

Dr. Robert Edwards, in a paper presented at the Family Planning Research Conference at Exter, England, in 1971 said, "most scientists would now accept that the effect (of the IUD) in most species, including man, is exerted at implantation."[Robert Edwards, "The physiologist and contraception," paper presented before the Family Planning Research Conference at Exter England in 1971.] In an exhaustive survey of over four hundred articles on the subject, Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers concluded, "in the light of current, accepted medical definitions of contraception, abortifacient, pregnancy, conception, and abortion, the conclusion is that the primary action of the IUD must be classed as abortifacient."[Thomas W. Hilgers, "The intrauterine device: contraceptive or abortifacient?" "Minnesota Medicine," June, 1974, 493-501.]

"Subclinical pregnancy has been reported do occur in 12 to 44% of cycles in women wearing intrauterine devices," reported a study by Dr. Markku Seppala of the University General Hospital Helsinki.[Markku Seppala et al "Pregnancy-specific beta-glycoprotein and chorionic gonadotropin-like immunoreactivity during the latter half of the cycle in women using intrauterine contraception," "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" 47:6, 1978, 1216.] The results of eighteen studies of patients with IUDs found that when pregnancies occurred with the IUD in place, 28.6% were spontaneously aborted and another 8.4% were etopic or tubal pregnancies necessitating surgery. Therefore, in the polite language of medicine, the IUD contributed to a "fetal wastage" rate of 37% in these pregnancies.[Thomas W. Hilgers, "The intrauterine device: contraceptive or abortifacient?" "Minnesota Medicine," June, 1974, 497.]

Finally, I would add that if a Roman Catholic physician is recommending ANY means of contraception other than NFP it should make one suspicious. His or her recommendation is not based on Roman Catholic teaching. Roman Catholic teaching prohibits the use of IUDs, copper or not, and this has nothing to do with their abortifacient nature. Roman Catholicism prohibits the use of condoms and other barrier methods which are never abortifacient.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Another point, Monique.

An alternative to emergency birth control pills recommended by doctors who have no problem with abortifacients is the copper-T intrauterine device (IUD) which can be effective up to 5 days after intercourse to prevent implantation. Insertion of a copper IUD is reportedly more effective at preventing implantation than the use of emergency birth control pills.

If copper IUDs were not abortifacient, it would be totally ineffective in this recommended usage.

Matt Makela said...

Amen, Dr. Heidenreich. I've been saying the same thing about the euphemism of "pro-life" for years.

Monique said...

Erich

After posting my question on the copper IUD I did my own quick research on the subject. I simply googled "copper IUD" and found info. from the Mayo Clinic and Wikipedia stating that even according to the manufacturer, "if fertilization of the embryo does occur the copper IUD (Paraguard) will prevent implantation".

I guess I just assumed what my Catholic doctor was telling me was true without doing the research myself- lesson learned. Thank you for the information you gave me. I appreciate your time.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Monique,

You're more than welcome. I'm glad you got some good information on this question. There's a lot of misinformation out there. Misinformation can cause death in our modern world. Praise God for the modern availability of information.

Blessings and Peace to you in Christ,

Erich

Anonymous said...

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live." Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV)

Isn't it ironic (and sad) that so many anti-abortion Christians quote this verse while practicing and/or condoning in others the use of contraception. The full implications of this verse on the use of contraception versus being open to life couldn't be plainer. Yet, how many folks driving around with "Choose Life" bumper stickers or license plates on their car are practicing contraception. May our Lord open our eyes.

Sam said...

Uh, wait, your CATHOLIC OBGYN told you this? She is obviously misguided. The Catholic church has always taught that under no circumstance are contraceptives acceptable. Anything that prohibits the creation of life is strictly off-limits. A true pro-life supporter is against abortion AND against contraceptives. Look it up.

GailJoy said...

Wow! You should read Rome Sweet Rome, Humane Vitae, & info. from the Internet about Natural Family Planning. Read them for yourself to find out what is truly in them. There is a whole 'contraceptive mentality' going on today which was warned about in Humane Vitae years ago. It is the mentality which says that people can be Contra-ceptive rather than Re-ceptive to God's gift of life. When a couple starts usinig contraception, they close themselves off & become somewhat selfish & hurt their marriage relationship & their relationship with God. That's a big reason why there are so many hurting or broken marriages/divorces, today. If the woman gets pregnant, the husband might get angry at her for not using artificial birth control or she may get angry at him. She may feel like an object or might fear rejection if she does get pregnant. Some women & men have fooled around or been unfaithful since using contraception. Also, there are those abortifacient contraceptives & the many health concerns/hazards due to artificial contraception & sterilization which are covered up by the greedy pharmaceutical/health companies who make billions from these products/services. The best answer I can give is to choose life...the blessing from God...as in the Biblical quote given by anon. The people who use Natural Family Planning are not contracepting. They are open to life & as a result, they have loving marriages with the lowest divorce rate on the planet...(almost nil) & they are truly happy people who find that they have great passion in their marriages long after others who are contracepting are trying to figure out how to re-start the flame. When you do as God wills & are truly open to life, you are truly blessed. One woman asked God what He wanted to say to her & opened her Bible to a random spot every time & was convicted on this very issue. She now uses NFP & said her relationship with her husband is so much better & more intimate & loving. They both have grown & become even more in love & feel so blessed. They wish they had done this years ago! For those who fear having large families or talking to their spouse about NFP, pray about it all, ask God for help always, & read & ponder this Biblical quote, "Ah Lord, it is You who created the heavens & the earth! Nothing is too difficult for you." Trust in God. He will bless you. God bless you all. Thank you for this opportunity to share some Good news. Gail :)

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Gail,

You wrote: "The people who use Natural Family Planning are not contracepting. They are open to life..."

I appreciate your passion about this subject, but I beg to differ. NFP is a means of preventing conception from occurring - actually one of the most effective means. One is actually more "open to life" if they use one of the many less effective means of preventing a baby from being conceived. It is "family planning" by definition.

There is, of course, a distinction between NFP, which does not separate the individual act of intercourse from procreation, and those methods which attempt to render each and every act sterile. But this is a distinction without a difference. The moral intent of NFP is the same as the rest - to prevent the conception of a child. The only other reason to use NFP is when couple's use it to increase their chances of conception. See my post here on the ethics.

NFP is also in conflict with 1 Corinthians 7:5.

I have already read the documents you suggested, Gail, plus many others by Roman Catholic apologists, and I understand the Roman Catholic viewpoint better than most Roman Catholics I know.

Did you know that even Roman Catholicism teaches that NFP a sin when used for anything but "grave" reasons? Roman Catholic couples who use NFP for the same reasons others use "artificial contraception" are still sinning according to Rome. Their sin, however, is considered "venial" whereas "artificial contraception" is considered a mortal sin in and of itself because these methods are classified as intrinsically evil. How many of the people who use NFP are using it for the type of grave moral reasons (such as protecting the mother's life) detailed in Humanae Vitae?

In short, I classify "Natural Family Planning" as yet another "procreation euphemism." There's nothing "natural" about it. In fact, when used consistently it can be found to be quite unnatural.

Anonymous said...

pro-life and pro-choice both use names that make them sound "good". Pro-life is pro-life of babies no matter what (supposedly... unless you have mixed views), and pro-choice is pro-killing babies (and completely for the mother). We were talking about that is my class this past week. Have you every seen The Silent Scream? You should check it out: http://www.silentscream.org/index.html

AJSR said...

It's easy for a man to make these kinds of comments. Try being pregnant for once, and see if you ever would be eager to do it again. Yes, children are blessings, but they are also balls and chains that hinder an adult (usually the mother!) from freely doing what s/he wants to or feels called to do.
Nowhere in the Bible do we have the term "pro-life," so I don't know why you're holding on to that term like it's Gospel. We're told to be fruitful and multiply. That has happened. (Is a population of nearly 7 billion enough multiplication for you?) We're told not to murder. We're told that marriage is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church, but that doesn't imply that marriage's only purpose is to produce children.

God also gave mankind dominion over the earth, which, as I see it, includes dominion over our own bodies, as well as the authority to explore the world of science and technology.
If it's a bad time in life to bring a child into the world (let's say it's a bad marriage, or there are not enough finances,e.g.), then we should use our minds and any technology available to us to avoid creating a child, so long as it does not violate God's command of not murdering.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

AJSR,

Thank you for your comment. I'll try to address your points one by one.

It's easy for a man to make these kinds of comments.

I'm sure they would sound better to you coming from another mother, so I highly recommend reading the Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition, or any of the blogs of like-minded Lutheran mothers listed in their blogroll.

Try being pregnant for once, and see if you ever would be eager to do it again.

I am well aware that the curse Eve's sin brought to pregnancy is a heavy burden. I love my wife more than myself, and would have taken all the burdens of her nine pregnancies upon myself if I could have. She is sick all day long for at least the first trimester, and has to take anti-contraction medication that makes her nervous and shaky and unable to sleep in the third trimester to prevent premature birth. Add to this the pain of actual childbirth, followed by after-contractions that have gotten significantly worse with each additional birth, and I can certainly agree that the burdens that accompany bearing children definitely constitute a curse.

Yes, children are blessings, but they are also balls and chains that hinder an adult (usually the mother!) from freely doing what s/he wants to or feels called to do.

No argument from me here. This is a true statement. However, I would add that what a person "wants to or feels called to do" is not necessarily what God actually calls them to do. In fact, examining myself regularly in light of the Ten Commandments (as Luther suggests we should do daily) shows me that my "wants" and "feelings" are almost always in conflict with God's will.

Nowhere in the Bible do we have the term "pro-life," so I don't know why you're holding on to that term like it's Gospel.

While all blessings from God are "gospel" in the broad sense, this issue we are discussing is one of law. Let there be no confusion between this and the Gospel of Christ's atonement for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world. Salvation is by grace through faith in this Gospel. Nevertheless, we use lots of words in theology that are not specifically found in Scripture. How about the Trinity? You won't find that term in Scripture, but I hope you won't deny that we worship the Triune God. Our Triune God is also most definitely "Pro-life."

continued below...

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

We're told to be fruitful and multiply. That has happened. (Is a population of nearly 7 billion enough multiplication for you?)

The question isn't whether it's enough for me or you. In any case, our Lutheran confessions clearly state that the command to be fruitful and multiply is still in effect today and will be until the end of the world.

The Roman Confutation pt. II, art. II, tried to make the same argument you are, saying:

At that time a command concerning the procreation of offspring was given to fill the earth, but now that that has been filled so that there is population pressure, the command no longer pertains to those able to be continent.

We replied in the Apology [XXIII.8] as follows:

Our opponents trivialize these arguments. They say that in the beginning there was a command to fill the earth, but now that the earth has been filled marriage is not commanded. Look at their clever argument! The Word of God formed human nature in such a way that it may be fruitful not only at the beginning of creation but as long as this physical nature of ours exists.

Besides, the earth is NOT full. There's still plenty of room for more.

We're told not to murder. We're told that marriage is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church, but that doesn't imply that marriage's only purpose is to produce children.

Neither do I imply that the only purpose of marriage is to produce children. But that doesn't mean we are free to intentionally separate this purpose from the one-flesh union of man and wife. I'm sure there is no other God-ordained purpose of this relationship that you would advocate intentionally removing.

God also gave mankind dominion over the earth, which, as I see it, includes dominion over our own bodies, as well as the authority to explore the world of science and technology.

All such dominion must be exercised in accordance with God's will.

If it's a bad time in life to bring a child into the world (let's say it's a bad marriage, or there are not enough finances,e.g.), then we should use our minds and any technology available to us to avoid creating a child, so long as it does not violate God's command of not murdering.

I'll let Luther respond to that final point:

Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: “Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.” But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper. [Luther's works, vol. 5: Lectures on Genesis, page 332]