THIS REFERS to two letters, published in the Inquirer, that may be confusing to readers.
The first letter, from Raul Nidoy (“Breathtaking infatuation for RH bill,” Inquirer, 5/10/11), correctly referenced our systematic review, published in the Archives of Family Medicine, in which we concluded, “that good evidence exists to support the hypothesis that the effectiveness of oral contraceptives depends to some degree on postfertilization effects” on the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
This fact is now so well-established in medical literature that the United States Food and Drug Administration says of the pill: “Although the primary mechanism of action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include… changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation.”
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine also admits that the pill modifies “the endometrium, thus preventing implantation.”
If a woman on the pill has a breakthrough ovulation, the pill-caused changes in the endometrium will increase the chance of an unrecognized, pill-induced loss of a preborn human.
For those who believe that human life begins at fertilization, then any pill-caused post-fertilization loss of life would be, by definition, an abortifacient.
The second letter, from Guttmacher Institute (“RH research findings distorted,” Inquirer, 7/1/11), claims that the “pill only serves to prevent a pregnancy; it does not terminate a pregnancy. It is blatantly false and against all scientific evidence to claim that the pill is an abortifacient.”
This letter, purposefully we think, does not tell the readers that the Institute defines pregnancy as beginning at implantation, a full 5-7 days after fertilization, when the unborn human, now called a blastocyst (not a “fertilized egg”), is made up of roughly 100 or more cells.
Since the pill does not affect an unborn child after implantation and the Institute defines pregnancy as not beginning until implantation, then they can claim the pill is not an abortifacient, but only because they refuse to define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization.
The bottom line is this: if one believes human life begins at fertilization, then good scientific data exist to demonstrate that the pill works, at times, as an abortifacient.
Furthermore, given that there are highly effective, inexpensive, totally natural, and non-abortifacient methods of birth control (the methods of modern natural family planning), it appears that most arguments for using birth -control pills can be said to be advocating convenience for mothers and fathers at the potential expense of innocent and invaluable human life.
—WALTER L. LARIMORE, MD,
assistant clinical professor,
Department of Community and Family Medicine,
University of Colorado
Health Sciences Center
Denver, CO, USA; JOSEPH B. STANFORD, MD, MSPH, CFCMC, professor, Division of
George D. and Esther S.
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine,
University of Utah,
375 Chipeta Way, Suite A
Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA