The committee's original report was in error on many points of fact. However, as of January 9, 2009, I am pleased to report that the original paper has now been replaced by a vastly improved document entitled: "Guidance on Contraceptive Methods". Thanks be to God!
Among other positive changes, this revised document no longer addresses the broader issue of contraception in general. For that reason, it is two pages shorter (18 rather than 20). While I am happy to report that the revised document is significantly better than the original, it still contains serious errors.
The most egregious error that remains, in my opinion, is a one-sentence statement claiming that the anti-implantation effects of ECPs ("emergency contraceptive pills") have been "refuted" by an endometrial study. This is NOT a factually true statement. Studies of ECPs thus far still cannot fully explain ECP's rates of "success" without taking anti-implantation effects into account. There are anti-implantation effects that the endometrial study wouldn't even address. Some of the research suggests abortifacient effects arrising not from failed implantation, but rather from such things as luteal phase dysfunction. The whole section on ECPs should have been re-written.
For this reason and others, this new report is still not a document I would direct anyone to for an accurate evaluation of the abortifacient properties of various birth control methods. However, it is not as grossly misleading as it was before on most counts.
Below is an important excerpt from the new report showing a vast improvement in the language of this revision as compared to the original document. While the third (one-sentence) paragraph in the snippet below is absurd (as I already abundantly informed them), it is at least offset by the context.
Concluding Remarks on hormonal contraceptionSo, read the new report and then comment below as to what you think of the revision.
Insofar as no hormonal contraceptive can suppress ovulation all the time there is some risk, whether great or small, of breakthrough ovulation, thus creating a scenario in which the egg may or may not be fertilized. If fertilized (which would lead to a pregnancy) it may or may not be able to successfully implant in an altered endometrium (which would either lead to a pregnancy or a chemical abortion).
The LCMS has historically determined that human life begins at conception. This position is firmly grounded on the science of embryology and on Holy Scripture. Because of this confession on human life, some people have ethical concerns about the use of hormonal contraception. Some pro-life medical organizations have not taken a stance against hormonal contraception. Other pro-life medical organizations emphasize “that the pill and similar birth control products act, part of the time, by design, to prevent implantation of an already created human being. These products clearly cause an early abortion and are - despite the semantic gymnastics of their ardent apologists - abortifacient.” Nearly all scientists and medical professionals agree that this is a possible action of the pill; however, scientific data does not exist to state with certainty how frequently such events occur. Therefore, the scientific data does not allow one to state definitively that hormonal contraceptive methods are abortifacients, but the possibility that this can occur must be acknowledged.
There are also some pro-life health care providers and theologians who believe that the Pill works solely by preventing ovulation.
The LCMS Sanctity of Life Committee following the mandate given to it by the Synod in Convention, cannot state definitively that hormonal contraception does not at least some of the time cause a chemical abortion. The medical and scientific community acknowledges this possibility but cannot state how frequently or if in fact this does occur. In light of this, some Christian couples may have concerns about hormonal contraception. Rather than defaulting immediately to the Pill or other hormonal methods, they should keep an open mind and make themselves aware of all forms of contraception including natural family planning, barrier methods, and sterilization in certain exceptionally difficult situations.