Friday, January 15, 2010

Questioning Hormonal Contraception: A New Trend?

Traditional Christians reject artificial contraception for moral reasons and more and more contemporary, secular women are rejecting it for health reasons. Traditional Christians claim that the natural law teaches us that artificial contraception is wrong and 5o years after the introduction of the The Pill in the 1960s science is discovering more and more dangers and problems with the idea of using hormones to "fool" the body into thinking it is already pregnant.

Could it be that science is catching up with Christian morality? Could it be that natural law is not as implausible as confident modern relativists thought it was? These are questions increasingly worth asking as we observe the spate of recent news items regarding The Pill and its health risks for women.

McLeans has a story on this issue: "Ditching the Pill for Good." Here is how it begins:
"Teresa Lambert was 15 years old when she first went on the pill. Her family doctor, she says, talked up its benefits: “She said my skin would be clear, and I’d know when my periods were coming.” At the time, it sounded “great,” she says, but 10 years later, she’s feeling differently: the 26-year-old recently went off the pill, and says a lot of her friends are doing the same. “I didn’t want to be taking something that altered my body any more,” says the Calgary native, who now uses condoms instead.

Lambert isn’t alone. While the pill remains one of the most widely used methods of birth control in Canada—only the condom is more popular—a growing number of women are feeling ambivalent about it, or ditching it altogether. In fact, oral contraceptive prescriptions in Canada levelled off in 2008, reports pharmaceutical industry analyst IMS Health Canada. Health care workers are seeing a growing demand for non-hormonal methods. Spurred by concerns about their health, the environment, or even frustration with family doctors, who sometimes seem to push the pill as a modern-day cure-all, Canadian women are looking for other options.

In this age of organic produce and yoga studios on every block, it’s no surprise that a growing number of women don’t want to take hormones every day. Yet a spate of recent studies left some, Lambert included, doubly concerned. In April, U.S. researchers announced that birth control pills seem to impair muscle growth: in 73 healthy women aged 18 to 31, those who weren’t taking oral contraceptives gained 60 per cent more muscle mass than those on the pill. Birth control pills typically contain a mix of estrogen and progesterone, the “pregnancy hormone,” says Steven Riechman of Texas A&M University, one of the study’s authors; the results could be due to the fact that, “when you’re pregnant, you’re not building muscle, because you need to reserve resources for the fetus.” [my bolding]

Did you notice that casual statistic in the second paragraph? Birth control pill perscriptions have finally leveled off in Canada as of 2008. Is this the turning of a corner? Is it the beginning of a decline in hormonal contraception in Canada? One can only hope so. Someone who clearly does hope so is Holly Grigg-Spall, the author of a blog called "Sweetening the Pill," which is devoted to attacking the birth control pill as a social evil that is harmful to women. Here is how she introduces the blog:

"In 1960 instead of changing society, society decided to change women. At the forefront of a growing backlash, this blog is for those asking: Who am I when I’m not on the Pill?

Decades after women’s health activist Barbara Seaman punctured the “diplomatic immunity” of the birth control pill, this blog will argue individual women are still being sacrificed for the greater good - for the good of the economy and population control. By shutting down a woman’s monthly hormone cycle the Pill has a crude impact on emotional state and quality of life.

Handed out like candy, and taken with the same carelessness - the current status of oral contraceptives undermines the motivation of their founder, Margaret Sanger, who believed in choice, freedom and education. The pill is to contraception, what the epidural is to labor - if a woman does not accept it, she is in the wrong.

Back when the Pill was released, it was thought that women would not submit to taking a medication each day when they were not sick. Now the Pill is making women sick. The Pill is harmful, as is the sugar coating used to make us swallow."
I have long thought that this should be an issue for self-proclaimed "feminists" but the mainstream feminist movement is highly complicit in this matter. Instead of looking out for the health interests of women, second wave feminism has collaborated in the project of changing women instead of changing society. But dissident voices are being raised increasingly.

The link between the pill and breast cancer has long been denied, but as Jill Stanek shows in this article, "Top scientist finally admits abortion-breast cancer link," some recent developments indicate that change is in the air:
"In February 2003, Dr. Louise Brinton, the National Cancer Institute's chief of the Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, served as chairperson at an NCI workshop in Bethesda, Md., to assess whether abortion was implicated as a breast cancer risk.

In the opinion of "over 100 of the world's leading experts," said the subsequent NCI report, including Dr. Brinton, the answer was no.

One expert disallowed from participating was Dr. Joel Brind, a biology and endocrinology professor who had co-authored a meta-analysis demonstrating an abortion/breast cancer (ABC) link.

Brind protested that the outcome was predetermined by "experts" handpicked by Dr. Brinton who either were not really experts, were dependent on the NCI or other government agencies for grants, or were pro-abortion extremists, such as two who had previously provided paid "expert" court testimony on behalf of abortionists.

Studies concluding there was not an ABC link were included in the workshop analysis; studies concluding there was were not.

At the time, 29 out of 38 studies conducted worldwide over 40 years showed an increased ABC risk, but the NCI workshop nevertheless concluded it was "well established" that "induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk."

Brind went on to write a minority report NCI alludes to on its website without publishing or listing its author and did not even mention in its workshop summary report.

Life went on, except for post-abortive women inflicted with breast cancer anyway. But six years later something happened. Dr. Brinton either flipped her lid, flipped ideologies, restudied the evidence and decided to recant, or couldn't sleep at night – and she began righting her wrong.

In April 2009, Brinton co-authored a research paper published in the prestigious journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, which concluded that the risk of a particularly deadly form of breast cancer that attacks women under 40 raises 40 percent if a woman has had an abortion."

It would seem that there is reason to think that the tide may be ready to turn against hormonal contraception, which may raise questions in the minds of many of whether artificial contraception is really a good thing or not, especially when a reliable and natural alternative in the form of natural family planning is available.

Update: Here is another article I meant to refer to, which deals with non-Christians advocating and using natural family planning.

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Halden said...
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