The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) has been around for 62 years and has become part of the landscape of modern society. There are few things that have had such a profound effect on this landscape as the OCP. At present, there are dozens of formulations of the pill, with variation in the dosages, composition, clinical indications and utilisation. Apart from the burgeoning vitamin and supplement market, it remains one of the few medications that are taken by people who are not sick—and therein lays the root cause of the problem of the pill.
In medical terms, the pill is effective: It does what it is designed to do with reliable consistency and efficacy. But, it has also done a lot more than what it was designed to do!
The social structure of society, traditional family and gender roles, and essential issues pertaining to the sanctity of life have all been thrown into the OCP mixer, and have unsurprisingly come out all mixed up. In this article we will consider the direct medical concerns associated with OCP usage, and on subsequent occasions will address the wider social, philosophical and ethical concerns about the pill.
In recent policy issues in the United States, much has been said about federal government’s intention to make all health insurers cover the cost of certain “preventive services.” The list of services includes sterilisation, contraceptives, and abortifacient (i.e. abortion-causing) drugs. An outcry has arisen from many corners, particularly in relation to the use of the so called “morning after pill” or “emergency contraception,n” which would necessarily be covered under these rules. Given the fact that human life begins at conception, it becomes clear that the use of such medication is tantamount to abortion: A developing human (albeit only a few hours or days old) is killed because the uterus in which the embryo is supposed to develop has been made hostile and further development is not possible. And we take issue with abortion because, among other reasons, it is a violation of the sixth commandment.
But the missing part of this debate, and one that only casts further aspersion on OCP usage, is that all methods of chemical contraception are potentially abortifacient. All OCPs aim at preventing conception through changes to ovulation and the process of fertilisation, exactly as they were designed to do. But in this regard they are not perfect. The estimated occurrence of ovulation despite OCP usage is approximately 20% in each ovulatory cycle. This naturally begs the question as to why then is the pill still effective in preventing pregnancy. Some of this is due to the significant effects of the pill in decreasing the chances of fertilisation (decreased mobility of the sperm and egg through the uterus and fallopian tubes, as well as the thickening of cervical mucus). But the effect that any clearly thinking person would be horrified to know is that the OCP changes the normally accepting and accommodating endometrial lining of the uterus into a barren wasteland; implantation or acceptance of the embryo into the place God intended it to go is hampered. If the rapidly growing human has nowhere to go, the normal hormones that sustain pregnancy are not produced and the embryo and endometrium is shed in a menstrual flow. A life is lost!
Many women and married couples have taken OCP’s while being ignorant of these facts. My desire is to help you accept moral responsibility if you have known these facts and yet have continued to take OCP’s. Your actions are morally inexcusable!
Some have argued a “relative risk ratio” defence for the ongoing use of chemical contraception. They maintain that the combination of breakthrough ovulation, unhampered fertilisation and subsequent failure of implantation is as rare as the proverbial “rocking-horse manure,” and thus not a valid concern. The exact “odds” of this happening are very difficult to determine and so all the figures we have to work on are guesses at best.
But human nature is such that when the odds stack up against personal benefit, all logic goes out the window. Take the Lotto as an example. The chances of winning big (millions) are about 1 in 14 million, but that doesn’t seem to factor into people still choosing to take the chance. Someone is going to win the Lotto.
Unfortunately many more women (many, many more) will be responsible for the murder of an innocent life—regardless of whether this happens intentionally or as a side-effect of hormonal manipulation.
Does it really matter what the risk is? How high do the figures have to be for us to decide to stop killing babies? The answer to this is obvious, isn’t it? Everyone wants to win the Lotto, but not everyone wants a baby to interfere with their life, their plans, and their career path. So personal desire trumps life, and we call it a “relative risk” or, worse, a “choice.”
The package insert of most OCP’s contains a long list of contra-indications and potentially life threatening side effects. Some package inserts even state the risk of causing an abortion through the failure of implantation. The need for consideration of these facts and appropriate action is essential. Don’t be hoodwinked by an industry that is out to make a buck irrespective of who gets in the way.
Next time we will address the societal issues that have arisen from the first 62 years of OCP usage.