An excellent read!

Check out this very though-provoking and interesting article…

“The Economics of Contraception”

http://www.1flesh.org/showcase/the-economics-of-contraception/

 

An Ongoing Conversation about The Pill

Recently, I’ve come across that there are quite a few people who disagree with the research and conclusion that birth control pills can cause abortions.  I’ve been able to have some correspondence with a Christian doctor who opposes this view.  This post covers our conversation and my thoughts so far.

In our emails I first asked him for his opinion on how the pill works and if it can cause abortions.  Here is his reply:

It is a complicated question.  I still prescribe the pills at this juncture because I still believe the manner of their functioning is non abortifacient.  I have examined the evidence and the theory regarding the hostile endometrium and am unconvinced that that mechanism is in operation if the pill fails and breakthrough ovulation occurs.  The explanation requires a bit of hormone knowledge… and takes a while to unfold.  I did write it up in a book I did The Contraception Guidebook if you want to think through the medical science.  I respect the folks that hold the opposing view, but I, and the leaders of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, believe the medical evidence doesn’t support the theory.

I told him that I bought the book on Amazon and am eagerly looking forward to reading it, since I haven’t done a lot of reading on the opposing view of Randy Alcorn.  He gave another thoughtful reply:

Complicated question, and medicine rarely allows for absolutes, as in “this NEVER does that”…. So, we live in an evidence based medicine world.  For the record, Christian Medical Dental Association with its 20,000 membership falls on the “non abortifacient” side, though I suspect within the membership there are those who don’t prescribe them for various reasons.  Dr. Walt Larrimore, a personal friend and one of Randy Alcorn’s lead “experts”, great doc, family practice doc, but he said in a personal conversation, “ there is no medical evidence that the pill causes abortion, but I choose not to prescribe them because there might one day be such evidence”… I think that is a sound ethical statement, but it is different than “pills cause abortion”.  Most of Alcorn’s research/science is from the 90’s, I’ve read it, even sent him a copy of the contraceptive guidebook, he read and responded that he was “concerned it might cause people to take the pill”… You see, even without convincing evidence, some , by conscience will prefer to use something else, or nothing at all… and I support them in that decision.

So, he is basically saying that the evidence does not support the theory that they cause abortions and the reason many people opt out of the pill are because it may happen even though there is no evidence.  Now, obviously there is good reason to believe that it’s still possible because of how the pill functions, but maybe not hard evidence.

All in all, I can’t wait to read his book.  It’s being shipped now.  I am not sure when I will have the time to read through it and post again but will do so as soon as I am able.

What I have gained from this research so far is that there is more evidence out there than I thought there was suggesting that the claim of birth control causing abortions isn’t true.  However, given what I know right now of the pill, I still think it functions in a hostile way toward an embryo (if there was one).  After I read more, I’d like to do my best to clearly and concisely represent both sides of the debate so that myself, and everyone , can examine the research themselves and make a thoughtful and prayerful decision.

Younger Women Are Getting Breast Cancer

Only 10% of breast cancer risk factors are genetic, according to this new study with Marissa Weiss.

Here are just three things mentioned that we can do to decrease our risk:

  1. Have babies (yes! pregnancy is healthy)
  2. Make a point to breastfeed (breastfeeding is harder for some women than others, but the studies show breastfeeding is a huge health benefit for women and their babies, so give it a try before choosing formula)
  3. Avoid hormonal birth control (regardless of the debate surrounding whether or not birth control pills are abortifacient, they do increase risk of breast cancer as well as create other health risks)

You can watch the video from CNN to hear the whole story and learn about other ways we can decrease our risk.

A Testimony of Hope, Peace, and Love

I found this story featured on the blog Money Saving Mom and just had to share it.

It is a deeply moving testimony of hope in the midst of grief and an amazing celebration of the immense value of life.  It is evident that God has blessed this family with His peace.  My favorite parts of their video are the stories and pictures of the two daughters and the beautiful relationship they built with their baby brother.  How sweet are the minds of children!  This family is full of love.  What a joy to be able to see a glimpse of that!

Baby Kyle was due to be born this past Valentine’s Day on February 14th but was welcomed into Heaven a few weeks before.  Please watch their story and pass it on.  You will be blessed by their testimony of God’s faithfulness to them.

Also, take a moment to lift up in prayer all families who have lost little ones.  May they, too, see the beauty of the children they conceived and celebrate their short lives on earth and their birth into eternal glory with Jesus.

To see the rest of their story, you can read it here at KimzKitchen.

 

A New Discovery?

For those who have read my posts and are interested in further research regarding birth control, I figured it would be fair to spend some time on the counter-arguments.

A commenter on a previous post mentioned a local doctor who says that if one of the three mechanisms of the pill fail, then they all fail, which means there would be no risk of unintentional abortions.  This was new news to me, so since then I’ve been doing more research.

My main source of information has been Randy Alcorn’s book Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?.  He spends roughly over 70 pages of the whole book on evidence to the contrary and other objections.  Though I didn’t ever catch him refer to this particular counter-argument, he did come close in the section where he talks about 20 physicians who signed a statement that are for the pill.  If you are interested in reading that portion, you can download the book in a PDF form at the link provided above, or you can read the statement here as well as Randy Alcorn’s response.

With all of this to say, I still have the same convictions.  However, I want to give this particular local doctor a chance to defend his view and I am in the process of setting up a time to meet with him.  I look forward to this interaction and will definitely post a follow up on what I learn.

How Mr. Alcorn made me think differently about The Pill

I didn’t know very much about birth control options.  In fact, while I was still single and in college I didn’t really need to know much.  But, being in a serious relationship and likely getting married within a year or two made me more curious to know what my options would be.  So, I began researching.

This research started probably at least four years ago, now.  I can’t even quite remember what started it, or how I stumbled on the information that I did.  Somehow, I ended up on the Eternal Perspectives Ministries website of Randy Alcorn (www.epm.org).  Astonished, I found article after article regarding birth control, prolife issues, and other family planning topics.  Soon enough, I was discovering that his research led him to believe that the birth control pill could cause abortions.

I was shocked!  I kept reading and discovered the reason for this thought is because of the three ways that the pill functions.  The two ways it works as preventative measures are to inhibit ovulation and thicken cervical mucus making it harder to sperm to reach the egg.  However, a third way it functions is to thin the lining of the uterus so that if an egg were to get fertilized it could not attach to the uterus.  This last method is abortive because life begins at conception, when the egg has been fertilized.

I then thought about how likely it would be for that to occur, or how often it could.  The research on those questions is not thorough.  It could be a very small chance to happen, but probably would at least once or twice within a year of being on the pill.  But, even if the chances are slim, just the fact that it is a way the pill functions caused alarm in my heart.

            How could I, as a life-valuing Christian, think I have the right to intervene in God’s process of the beginning of life?

I started researching alternative methods: barriers, natural family planning etc… and concluded that I would choose one of those methods when the time came for me to make a decision.  However, once I got engaged I fell into temptation.  I procrastinated.  I waited so long to make a decision.  A good friend of mine was asking me what I decided and I actually told her that I thought I’d probably just end up going on the pill because it was the easiest thing to do.  Thankfully, she confronted me about contradicting myself and reminded me of the research I’d already done.  I thought, for a time, I could just ignore the evidence and rely on the low chances of it actually happening.  I am so glad she confronted me.

Recently, I’ve been reading Randy Alcorn’s book about the pill.  You can even download the entire book online here.  The research is so blatantly obvious that I can’t believe I was ever tempted to stray from my convictions.

Now I have a desire is for Christian couples to be keenly aware and thoughtful about their choices regarding birth control because I think the majority are ignorant of this research.  I would love to see all Christian couples take a stance against the pill and all birth control options that function the same way and choose alternative methods.  The alternative methods make me take sex more seriously (which we should!), they force my husband and I to communicate more, and most importantly they provide me with a clear conscious.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that if one of my eggs gets fertilized I will become pregnant and won’t mess with the process of forming life and that, to me, is very freeing.

I have an immense amount of gratitude for Randy Alcorn and the extensive research he has done.  I admire his ministry on this subject and want the same boldness and fervor that he has.  Life is just too precious to be ignorant about birth control.

Controlling Birth: A Quest to Understand “Birth Control” – Part III Pregnancy Preventions

Part III: Pregnancy Preventions

The fantastic thing about pregnancy preventions is that they are less complicated (in my opinion).  There are no foreign chemicals or substances pervasively intruding your body which make these methods far less convoluted.  Plus, they don’t mess with the process of procreation nearly as intrusively.

The short list of barrier methods are: condoms (male or female), cervical cap, the diaphragm, the sponge, and the cervical shield.  I really would like to spare you the boredom so I will only discuss the two methods I’ve heard about the most, and the ones I may or may not have personal experience using.

The male condom:  I really don’t need to explain how it works.  It is cheap, widely available, simple, user friendly.  Need I say more?

The Diaphragm:  This one is a little trickier.  It is a latex cup that is inserted to cover the cervix.  Spermicide is used inside the cup.  I won’t go into too many details regarding how to use is.  But, in my opinion it is much better than condoms.  You only need to buy one and it should be less than $60 and lasts for two years.  Check out this women’s health site again for more information.

How do these two methods work?  Plain and simple.  Prevents the sperm from reaching the egg!

(Some people may have allergies to spermicide (the only chemical used in these methods) or to latex, so in that case NFP is the way to go.)

Natural Family Planning (NFP):  There are so many websites out there, not to mention books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility that I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this one either.  For women to be successful at using NFP, they need to be regular, disciplined, and in tune with their bodies.  You’d watch things like changes in cervical mucus, monitoring daily temperatures, and counting days and length of cycles.  I have never been blessed with regular cycles so it would be a lot harder for me to do this.  But, if you learn the methods they basically function by knowing when you are fertile so you can either use a barrier when you are fertile or abstain (thus preventing pregnancy).  These methods also work wonderfully, I’ve heard, when one is trying to conceive.

The most liberating thing in my mind about these methods are the fact that if they fail, you become pregnant, and will likely find out about it in the coming weeks!  I don’t have to be worried about the possibility that my birth control might be messing with a life in my womb.  That is just liberating to me!

Controlling Birth: A Quest to Understand “Birth Control” – Part II A Break-down of Every Method

Part II: A Break-down of Every Method and How They Function

Here I am going to provide basic, easily accessible information on the methods of birth control.  I realistically cannot go over every single one because there are far too many different brands and variations, but I will hit the main ones and talk about how to find the information you need about each one.

The are 6 categories of birth control: Barrier Methods, Natural Family Planning Methods, Hormonal Methods, Implantable Devices, Emergency Contraception, and Permanent Birth Control.

The most popular methods are hormonal methods (also will briefly touch on emergency contraception because it is hormonal) and implantable devices, so let’s talk about those first.

  • Hormonal Methods
    • Oral Contraceptives (Ring and Patches function the same way)
      There are over 60different brands of “the pill”.  So, for the sake of ease I will choose 2 examples (one of each type).  If you’d like to know about a specific brand not mentioned in this entry here is a great websitethat lists the different brands in alphabetical order.

      • The Pill (combined pill): Yasmin
        “Yasmin is a combined oral contraceptive, a birth control pill that contains both an estrogen and a progestin.  It works to prevent pregnancy primarily by stopping ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs from the ovaries).  However, it also prevents pregnancy in two other, minor ways.  Yasmin alters the cervical mucus (the fluid of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina), making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.  Lastly, Yasmin alters the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium), making it less receptive to an embryo.”
        The above quote was taken from http://women.emedtv.com/yasmin/yasmin.html
      • The Mini-pill (progestin-only pill): Micronor (norethisterone)
        “Firstly, they affect the natural mucus at the neck of the womb (cervix).  Norethisterone increases the thickness of this mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to cross from the vagina into the womb.  By preventing sperm entering the womb, successful fertilization of an egg, leading to pregnancy, is less likely.  Norethisterone also changes the quality of the womb lining (endometrium).  The changes prevent any eggs that have been fertilized from successfully implanting onto the wall of the womb.  Lastly, norethisterone may prevent the release of an egg from the ovaries, however this may not occur in all women who take the mini-pill.”
        The above quote was taken from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/sex-and-relationships/medicines/micronor.html
        Here is another web page briefly explaining the progestin-only methods which include the pill, the shot, and implants.
    • The Shot
      • Popular Example: Depo-Provera
        “The medroxyprogesterone [active ingredient] prevents pregnancy in three main ways. Firstly, it prevents eggs from being released from the ovaries (ovulation). It also increases the thickness of the natural mucus at the neck of the womb, making it more difficult for sperm to cross from the vagina into the womb. By preventing sperm entering the womb, successful fertilization of any eggs that are released is less likely. The hormone also changes the quality of the womb lining (endometrium), making it less receptive for any fertilized eggs to implant into.”
        This information was taken from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/sex-and-relationships/medicines/depo-provera.html and if you want to read a simpler explanation see this site, which also has a link to the ethical considerations that will be addressed later.
  • Implantable Devices
    • Implantable Rod
      “The rod releases a progestin, which causes changes in the lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus to keep the sperm from joining an egg.  Less often, it stops the ovaries from releasing eggs.”  This quote was a little vague, so here is another source: “The progestin also thins the lining of the uterus so if the egg is fertilized it may be less likely to attach to the wall of the uterus.”
    • Intrauterine Devices
      • Copper IUD: ParaGard
        “It releases a small amount of copper into the uterus, which prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg.  If fertilization does occur, the IUD keeps the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus.”
      • Hormonal IUD: Mirena
        “It releases progestin into the uterus, which keeps the ovaries from releasing an egg and causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm can’t reach the egg.  It also affects the ability of a fertilized egg to successfully implant in the uterus.”
        All the above information is taken from this website
  • Emergency Contraception: The Morning After Pill
    • I was surprised to find some very interesting information after researching a little about emergency contraception.  Clearly, I really should do more research.  Basically, any and all emergency contraceptives work very similarly to other oral contraceptives (this includes “the morning after pill” and emergency IUDs).  However, there is a higher dosage of hormones in these pills than in regular birth control and so, according to research, inhibiting an already fertilized egg from implanting to the uterus is actually less likely than it is with regular birth control.  Now, the intention of this method is for emergencies and is not intended for long-term birth control use, probably due to the much higher levels of hormones.
      Here are the two sources I used: womenshealth.gov and page 5 of this very lengthy PDF.

As I hope you have gathered from this information, it is clear that these methods of birth control pose a significant ethical issue if one believes that life begins when the egg has been fertilized.  If you missed the discussion on when life begins, see the previous post here.

So, if all these methods actually function to prevent and stop pregnancies, then tiny little lives in the beginning stages are being killed.  If you respond to this like I do, I feel horrified.

There is hope, though.  There are other options.  Stay tuned for the next post which will discuss alternative methods of birth control (or what I like to call pregnancy preventions) like barrier methods and natural family planning.