- 7 years ago
- Wedding: December 2011
The bigger point is that one of the ways in which birth control pills can work is by preventing implantation due to a thinning of the endometrium over time in case ovulation does occur. In that situation, the same philosophical objection that HL is using against IUDs would come into play. It’s not the primary way that BCP’s work, just like it isn’t the primary way for people who use an IUD for birth control (and not emergency contraception purposes), but it can happen. Therefore, what HL is asking for is arbitrary.
It doesn’t matter what they believe if it’s not factual. Plan B does not cause abortions and/or prevent implantation. It doesn’t matter if Hobby Lobby “believes” that, it’s just not true.
I still get updates on this thread because I clicked “follow” ages ago. I should also say that I am not against abortion, and I do not necessarily believe that life begins at fertilisation, implantation, or at any other pre-defined point. However, I am married to a strict Catholic.
For most of the Catholics I have met, it is irrelevant what the medical definition of pregnancy is… what matters to them is where “life” begins. For many of them, life begins at fertilisation, not implantation. In this case, the “medical definition” is wholly irrelevant to their sense of morality… their moral definitions deal with how they define the beginning of human life. They define human life as beginning at fertilisation. Therefore, BC which interferes with implantation is an abortificant to them. Believe you me, I have had this debate with my other half many times (with me taking the “life does not begin at fertilisation” stance). I’m just saying this so that people undestand that moral objections based on implantation are not illogical at all, within their own paradgim. The people who object are not daft… they just have a different paradigm.
My own qualms about birth control are completely different… my concern has always been “how would an accidental pregnancy on X method of birth control affect my ability to deliver a healthy child?” I realise that this is probably a minority concern, but for most of my adult life, my quiet prayer has been “please don’t let me be pregnant, but if I am, please give me the strength to deliver and raise a healthy offspring”. That choice is not for everyone. I only say it because it has affected my choice of birth control… for example, I have deliberately avoided birth control which would have affected a foetus which had already implanted (eg IUDs). However, this is a wholly irrelevant argument within this thread.
What I am saying is this: if this is a problem for you, I think you need to focus on nationalising your healthcare and removing the notion of corporate personhood from law. Corporations are not people and do not require the same rights. End of. The fact that these guys get to “opt out” of law is shocking to me.
Both the IUD and the hormonal BC pill serve a primary function to prevent fertilization. The IUD contains copper which acts as a spermicide. It also coats the cervix in a thick mucous to stop sperm from passing through. The hormonal BC pill regulates your hormones in a certain way so as to prevent fertilization. BOTH the IUD and the hormonal BC pill have a fail-safe just in case a brave little sperm gets through and fertilizes an egg. Both make the conditions in your uterus inhospitable to a zygote, thus preventing implantation.
Checked a few papers and yes, it is indeed a pro-life myth.
“Even some pro-life physicians, sparked by the recurring actions by the pro-life movement as a whole against birth control, stepped in to offer their medical views on the concerns their fellow pro-lifers raise. In 1998, twenty-two pro-life Ob/Gyns published an analysis entitled “Birth Control Pills: Contraceptive or Abortifacients?” and four of these pro-life physicians followed up with a more detailed paper on hormonal contraceptives in general. The physicians open their statement boldly warning, “Currently the claim that hormonal contraceptives [birth control pills, implants (norplant), injectables (depoprovera)] include an abortifacient mechanism of action is being widely disseminated in the pro-life community. This theory is emerging with the assumed status of “scientific fact,” and is causing significant confusion among both lay and medical pro-life people. With this confusion in the ranks comes a significant weakening of both our credibility with the general public and our effectiveness against the tide of elective abortion.” The authors explain that any effects on the uterine lining that the pro-life movement uses to support the claim that fertilized eggs are being prevented from implanting would be insignificant and has no role in the ability for a fertilized egg to implant. Fertilized eggs are able to implant in much more hostile conditions than those resulting from the mode of action from the pill. They report “The presumption that implantation of a blastocyst is thwarted by “hostile endometrium” is contradicted by the “pill pregnancies” we as physicians see. Pill company literature estimates 3 to 5 pregnancies per l00 women per year for pill users. Many of these women take the “pill” an additional month or two before finding out they are pregnant. These pregnancies generally progress with no more difficulty than non-pill pregnancies. To our knowledge, there are no studies showing that the spontaneous abortion rate in these cases is any greater than in pregnancies with a “friendly endometrium.” The pro-life physicians conclude that there is no evidence to support that the contraceptive methods in question act in the ways that would be unacceptable to the pro-life individual who believes life begins at fertilization. They state it as plainly as they can, “the ‘hormonal contraception is abortifacient’ theory is not established scientific fact. It is speculation, and the discussion presented here suggests it is error” and continue “if a family, weighing all the factors affecting their own circumstances, decides to use this modality, we are confident that they are not using an abortifacient.”
“Birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation. These hormones also cause other changes in the body that help prevent pregnancy. The mucus in the cervix thickens, which makes it hard for sperm to enter the uterus. The lining of the uterus thins, making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach to it.”
The WebMd article about birth control pills mentions this:
“Hormonal contraceptives also change the cervical mucus to make it difficult for the sperm to find an egg. Hormonal contraceptives can also prevent pregnancy by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for implantation.”
Pretty much everywhere I read about the hormonal BC pill, that secondary function of it is mentioned. Does that make it an abortifacient? Of course not, but Evangelists do not care about science or proper definitions.
Google search, and WebMD, are wrong. That doesn’t mean that they are maliciously wrong… this would fall into what I call the “lies to children” category. You know… like when you do Chemistry GCSE or equivalent and they tell you that an atom is a nucleus surrounded by rings, whereas in fact the electron pairs are more like… moving balloons attached to a central hub. It’s a half-truth designed to make things easier to understand. But in this case, it is misleading.
If you go to Google Scholar and search through the peer review, which I did do (because this piqued my interest), the effect of the pill upon the womb lining is absolutely negligible. If you think about it, it has to be negligible, because extremely high doses of oestrogen and progesterone are released during pregnancy. I’m not entirely sure why this is mentioned in the “how does it work” literature at all.. I got out the instructions for my last packet of pills (admittedly from many years ago, before I started using the implant) and it isn’t mentioned there.
I also looked up the morning after pill and, likewise, the effect upon the womb lining is negligible. I didn’t actually realise this before I read this thread (so thanks to PP for pointing it out). Therefore, the morning after pill cannot prevent implantation either.
Further research reveals that the IUD is another matter…. it doubles the rate of miscarriage if you do acidentally get pregnant on it, for starters, and can cause fairly serious problems for the baby.
Of course, if this were really about saving fertilised embryos, women who don’t use contraception get pregnant and fail to implant frequently. (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html is a good article about this). Therefore, by that same logic, ANY method of birth control prevents embryo loss more than no method at all. Fewer fertilised eggs survive if a woman uses no contraception at all vs if she uses an IUD. It’s just that when different methods of birth control are compared together, the IUD stands out, alone, in terms of preventing implantation, and causing potentially serious problems if a pregnancy does occur.
By that same logic, if Hobby Lobby truly believe in saving embryos, they should insist that all of their employees use a non-IUD method of contraception unless they are actively TTC.
“Oral contraceptives maintain a very thin, flat endometrium, such that lesions might be readily identified and treated during operative hysteroscopy procedures. Prevention of pregnancy and endometrial thinning with administration of OCs facilitates procedural scheduling for patients and surgeons.”
“Magnetic resonance imagingscans of the uteri of women reveal that the OC users have endometrial linings that are consistently thinner than the endometrial linings of nonusers,<sup>48–50</sup> up to 58% thinner.<sup>51</sup>“
Oral contraceptives absolutely do thin the endometrial lining. That’s why most women on long-term birth control have lighter (or no) periods over time. You are correct about Plan B — because it is a one-dose pill, it is not enough to have a significant effect on endometrium. Beyond the literature on the subject, I sincerely doubt that Mayo Clinic is “lying to children” about how birth control works.
“Combination birth control pills also thicken cervical mucus and thin the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to keep sperm from joining the egg. The minipill thickens cervical mucus and thins the endometrium — preventing sperm from reaching the egg.”
In middle and high school, I had a friend who had some serious birth defects. Her mother had been on the pill and continued to take it for several weeks after she had apparently become pregnant. When she found out that she was pregnant, she stopped taking the pills immediately. Her daughter was born with a congenital heart and renal defects. It had been a very high-risk pregnancy and birth. Apparently these were the effects the mother’s birth control pill usage had on the pregnancy. There is no garauntee that the baby and mother will turn out fine should one become pregnant while on hormonal BC.
Of those 3-5% of women who do get pregnant with actual use of the hormonal BC pill, I doubt many of them end up carrying the baby to term, so current statistics on the hormonal BC and birth defects are probably way skewed.
Zhang L, Chen J, Wang Y, Ren F, Yu W, Cheng L. Pregnancy outcome after levonorgestrel‐ only emergency contraception failure: a prospective cohort study. Human Reproduction, 2009, 24, pp. 1605-11.
Raman-Wilms L, Tseng AL, Wighardt S, Einarson TR, Koren G. Fetal genital effects of first‐trimester sex hormone exposure: a meta ‐ analysis. Obstet. Gynecol. 1995, 85, pp. 141‐9.
Bracken MB. Oral contraception and congenital malformations in offspring: a review and meta ‐ analysis of the prospective studies. Obstet Gynecol. 1990, 76, pp. 552- 7.
Simpson JL, Phillips OP. Spermicides, hormonal contraception and congenital malformations. Adv Contraception. 1990, 6, pp. 141-67.
Nor do hormonal BCP increase your chance of an ectopic pregnancy:
Trussell J, Hedley A, Raymond E. Ectopic pregnancy following use of progestin‐only ECPs [letter]. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, 2003, 29, p. 249.
Cleland K, Raymond E, Trussell J, Cheng L, Haoping Z. Ectopic pregnancy and emergency contraception: a systematic review. Obstet. Gynecol. 2010, 115, pp. 1263‐6.
EDIT: In fact, here you go. http://blogs.webmd.com/womens-health/2012/02/exposure-to-birth-control-when-pregnant-will-my-baby-be-ok.html
“According to a study done in Denmark, about 1% of pregnant women have used BCPs during the initial part of their pregnancies. In the U.S., BCPs are still the most widely used form of reversible birth control. Thus one would expect to see some obvious, consistent patterns of infant effects. One of the largest studies, published in 1995, looked at some 65,500 women who had infants exposed to BCPs. The primary area of focus was external genital defects, as it was felt that early exposure to synthetic sex hormones (e.g., BCPs) could impact genital development. No increased risk for genital defects was found. Moreover the FDA supports the position that synthetic progesterones found in BCPs did not cause other types of non-genital birth defects.
In 2010, about 10,000 infants with 32 types of birth defects were contrasted with infants without birth defects. Of the 32 types of birth defects only two had statistical links to early pregnancy BCP use (underdeveloped left heart chamber or hole in the abdominal wall). The researchers concluded that those findings may have been by chance, not direct causation. They stated “… our findings are consistent with the majority of previous studies that found women who use OCs [oral contraceptives] during early pregnancy have no increased risk for most types of congenital malformations.”
There has also been a concern about the risk of having a Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) baby due to prenatal BCP exposure. The weakest study found an increased risk in women under age 34—but no increased risk in women age 34 or older, when Down Syndrome babies are more common anyway. Moreover, in a study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, BCP use by itself was not a significant risk factor for Trisomy 21.
Finally, in Korea 120 women who had taken BCPs at the time of conception were matched to 240 women who had not been using BCPs in early pregnancy. After all women had delivered it was determined that there were no differences in the infants’ weight or age at delivery. In the BCP-exposed group the rate of general birth defects was 3.2% compared with 3.6% in the non-exposed group.
…. A much larger dose of hormones is used for the “morning after pill” or ECP. What happens to infants conceived when using a higher dose of hormones? In the Korean study mentioned above, there were 15 women who used high dose synthetic progesterone ECP regimens (e.g., similar to Plan B® in the U.S.). There were no adverse fetal outcomes observed. A Plan B® type of ECP has been available, over the counter, in China since 1999. Among the several hundred ECP pregnancies, a small group of 31 pregnant women were followed through delivery. There were no significant differences in incidence of miscarriage, malformations, or neonatal problems among the ECP exposed babies.
… One of the highest doses of synthetic progesterone that an infant could receive from a birth control method would be from the DepoProvera shot. A large group of children (1207 of them) exposed to Depo in utero were examined for problems with growth or attainment of puberty. The use of Depo during pregnancy did not adversely impact long term growth or sexual development of children.”
PS Here’s the link to the (ironically) pro-life group’s paper which explains their methodology for concluding that the changes which hormonal BCP make to the endometrial lining do not prevent implantation:
I am not sure if this is the same paper as Rachel posted, but it is pretty conclusive that a Christian can use depo provera or combined oral contraceptive pills and be confident that it will not cause a post conception failure to implant.
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