Wall Street Journal, 7/31/08: "Treating the Pill as Abortion"

Stephanie Simon over at the WSJ has picked up the story Erich posted about on July 19.

the Bush Administration, as described in the Wall Street Journal:
Set aside the fraught question of when human life begins. The new debate: When does pregnancy begin?

The Bush Administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion.

A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying "the life of a human being." [...]

Would our Lutheran leaders identify popular forms of contraception as "abortifacient" and then unequivocally condemn their use, since they can cause the destruction of human embryos?


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I find this quote of particular interest in the WSJ story: "Barr Pharmaceuticals, which makes oral contraceptives, took issue with the idea that its products cause abortions and added that 'an individual's conscience should not prevent the timely dispensing of these products.'"

Firstly, this shows that the pharmaceutical company does not define life as beginning at conception. Why? Because the company's drug product information inserts for its birth control pills clearly state that interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg is one of the potential actions of these drugs.

The only way Barr Pharmaceuticals can take issue with the idea that its products cause abortions is by saying life doesn't begin at fertilization (conception), but rather not until implantation.

Secondly, they are thus very wrong to go on to say that: "an individual's conscience should not prevent the timely dispensing of these products."

Barr Pharmaceuticals is certainly aware of the fact that Christians define life as beginning at conception, and that properly informed consciences would thus be troubled by prescription and use of the Pill.

It appears to me that Barr Pharmaceuticals is being intentionally misleading in its public statement here for the sake of protecting its bottom line.

No matter where you look, something always seems to trump concern for the life of babies in the womb.

GrannyGrump said...

*tearing hair out*

We shouldn't even be having this discussion. It's debunked science.

Yes, the Pill's creators and its enthusiasts believed that it had a tertiary, abortifacient effect, which they considered a plus. Yes, they resorted to re-defining "conception" and "pregnancy" and "abortion" to defend the "moral acceptability" of the way they believed the Pill to work.

But it's since been shown that if there is breakthrough ovulation -- the only circumstance in which conception is possible -- the corpus leuteum will pump out more than enough hormones to offset the Pill's effects, allowing a healthy endometrium capable of sustaining a new life.

Think of it this way: On a still day, if you spray Raid in a guy's face, he's gonna breathe it in and be poisoned. But do the same thing in the middle of a wind storm and the power of the wind will overcome the power of the aerosol sprayer and the bug spray will harmlessly dissipate.


We learned that hundreds of thousands of newly-conceived babies are NOT being causally or inadvertently aborted. We need to embrace this new data, and then MOVE ON TO REAL KILLING, like that which routinely is done in IVF clinics, where "surplus" embryos are deliberately created then flushed away.

There are abortifacients out there. The Pill isn't one of them. Let's get with the science and move on. This horse is dead.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...


I truly wish you were right. But you are not. If you're going to make such an outlandish claim that the science shows the Pill doesn't cause abortions, then you should be prepared to cite the scientific studies that prove such a claim.

Alas, I have studied this subject intensively, and I know for a fact that you will not find any scientific studies to support your claim.

I realize that there are well-meaning "pro-life" persons out there floating theories which claim to explain away the abortifacient risks. However, these theories have no basis in scientific fact.

The claim you have repeated here is as follows: "...if there is breakthrough ovulation the corpus leuteum will pump out more than enough hormones to offset the Pill's effects..."

Here I will paraphrase Dr. Walter A. Larimore, the ONLY author to have published a review of all the studies of these effects in a respected peer-reviewed medical journal:

There are no studies which prove this claim that hormones from the corpus leuteum overcome the endometrial effects of the Pill. In fact, we know that after a woman stops taking the Pill, it can take several cycles for her menstrual flow to increase to the volume of women who are not on the Pill, suggesting that the endometrium is slow to recover from its Pill-induced thinning. There is one study in particular that looked at women who ovulated on the Pill. This study was done in a group of previously sterilized women who were asked to take the Pill and then miss it for two days in a row. An elevation in serum progesterone was interpreted as being consistent with a breakthrough ovulation. In every single woman with this progesterone surge, the endometrium did not appear to be receptive to implantation.

The hostile endometrium evidence is strong enough that the ethical responsibility rests upon the opponents to prove to women that there is no abortifacient effect. Unless such evidence is found, Christina, you simply must not make the claim you have repeated here.

thinkinginside said...

One thing is important to remember in looking at current definitions of "abortion": Prior to 1970, the medical community understood "pregnancy" to begin at fertilization, as was consistent with the biological definition since the mid 1800's when the process of fertilization was understood.

However, in the 1960's, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) "redefined" pregnancy to begin at "implantation", which is where the embryo plants itself in the lining of the uterus.

Why? Well, the definition of "abortion" is the "termination of a pregnancy". If you have no "pregnancy", then you have no "abortion".

Why bother? Well, the l960's brought not only the advent of the oral contraceptive pills, but also the beginning of embryo research. ACOG had to do it's part in the culture war. As they continue to do so.

The proposed HHS regulations strengthen rights of conscience for all health care workers, and as such strengthen one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the way of unlimited access to abortion worldwide: Conscientious Objection.

Conscientious objection (1.) of health care workers was identified at a recent international proabortion conference in London as one of the major obstacles to be overcome, along with two other "problems":

2. The presence and influence of the Roman Catholic church in South American, and the presence and influence of Christian missionaries in Africa and

3. The people themselves view the fetus as a person in many cultures, and don't actually want abortion.

At this conference in London (See Womendeliver.org) plans were discussed to overcome each of these obstacles on a worldwide scale.

So, putting our discussion on contraception into a bigger perspective, it seems to me that believers in Christ have the only perspective which can and has effectively countered the push toward disposible children: that God Himself is the author of life, and that He gives us children as a blessing, not a curse, (or a "disease").

Now, some may argue that speaking out in the public arena is useless, since unbelievers are damned anyway, and won't desire to follow God anyway until they come to faith.

To that argument, I would say that many of our vocations involve some public voice, whether it be within our circle of friends, or the workplace, or wider areas of responsibility. If we do not speak out when the Lord gives us opportunity, how will those He loves (which includes everyone by the way), hear and perhaps have a God given opportunity to consider how wide and high and deep is the love of God, which can even include embryos and fetuses and children?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Excellent point. I've often said that the main reason people go to such lengths to define the beginning of life or "pregnancy" is to identify a time before which they believe few will argue against the moral acceptability of interfering with procreation.

Even when the early Christians did not believe "ensoulment" happened until "quickening" (detectable movement in the womb) they considered it a sin to abort prior to that time. It just wasn't classified as "murder" until after quickening.