LifeNews.com is reporting the comments of a Princeton University professor who says women are not using birth control pills correctly and the misuse is resulting in pregnancies and abortions that wouldn’t otherwise occur. Professor James Trussell says about 8 percent of women who use the birth control pill become pregnant annually and get abortions because they don’t take the pills faithfully.
What the Professor does not report (but I do in my writing), is that the BCP can cause an abortion (miscarriage) at even the earliest stages of pregnancy – before most women even know they are pregnant.
Increasingly, pro-life advocates are criticizing the use of BCPs, as they have the morning after pill, because it can cause abortions in some circumstances by preventing the unborn child from implanting into the mother’s uterus to continue growing and developing.
In one journal article in which I systematically reviewed all of the evidence on this topic, I wrote:
The primary mechanism of oral contraceptives is to inhibit ovulation, but this mechanism is not always operative. When breakthrough ovulation occurs, then secondary mechanisms operate to prevent clinically recognized pregnancy.
These secondary mechanisms may occur either before or after fertilization. Postfertilization (abortifacient) effects would be problematic for some patients, who may desire information about this possibility.
This article evaluates the available evidence for the postfertilization effects of oral contraceptives and concludes that good evidence exists to support the hypothesis that the effectiveness of oral contraceptives depends to some degree on postfertilization (abortifacient) effects.
However, there are insufficient data to quantitate the relative contribution of postfertilization effects.
So, since BCPs (and, in fact, all forms of hormonal birth control) and IUDs can serve as an abortifacient, what is a family who believes that life begins at conception (fertilization) to do for ethical birth spacing? Here’s what I say in another article:
Natural Family Planning – a viable option to the Pill (or IUD)
Only over the last decade has modern, scientific natural family planning (NFP, also called “fertility awareness methods”) has become established in the medical literature.
Nevertheless, many physicians and most women view natural family planning only as the old fashioned and mostly ineffective rhythm method. The old joke goes something like this: “What do you call a couple who uses the rhythm method for birth control?” The answer, “Parents!”
Most people (physicians and patients) are simply not aware of modern NFP – much less its many advantages and it remarkable effectiveness. Furthermore, it takes time on the part of the physician and the couple seeking to avoid conception to teach and/or learn NFP. It is much faster and much more convenient just to write a prescription than to introduce, discuss and then teach NFP. In addition, the cost of the Pill is increasingly covered by insurance policies, yet the cost of patient education is not a widely covered service.
Many are surprised to learn that one form of NFP, developed at Creighton University (The NaPro’ method), has been medically studied over the last 20 years and has been reported in one meta-analysis to be even more effective than the Pill at preventing pregnancy.
One meta-analysis reported five studies that recorded 1,876 couples who used the NaPro’ method for a total of 17,130.0 couple months of use. The method and use effectiveness rates for avoiding pregnancy were 99.5 and 96.8 at the 12th ordinal month and 99.5 and 96.4 at the 18th ordinal month, respectively. The discontinuation rate was 11.3% at the 12th ordinal month and 12.1% at the 18th ordinal month.
A recent study of this scientific approach to NFP evaluated 701 couples at an urban hospital clinic in the Houston area. After 12 months of use, the following net pregnancy probabilities were found per 100 couples: pregnancies related to the method, 0.14, and pregnancies caused by user and/or teacher error, 2.72.
Pregnancy probabilities were similar whether the women had regular or irregular menstrual cycles, had recently discontinued the Pill or were breastfeeding. The authors concluded that pregnancy probabilities using this form of NFP compared favorably with those of other methods of family planning and that women did not need to have regular cycles to use the NFP successfully.
Obviously, in the populations studied, the method is highly effective as a means of avoiding pregnancy in both its method and use effectiveness. The method effectiveness has remained stable over the years of the studies, but the use effectiveness for avoiding pregnancy appears to have improved over the study period.
Another form of NFP, the Billings Ovulation Method, is so simple to teach and use that it is taught around the world, even to people who cannot read or write.
NFP is said by its advocates to promote love, romance, communication, prayer, spirituality and learning about natural, God-created reproductive mechanisms.
An advantage of NFP is that it is said to foster communication and understanding between the man and the woman, develop co-operation between them and a sharing of the responsibility in this important matter of their children.
In all these ways it is said to improve a couple’s relationship and helping them to grow in love and fidelity to each other.