Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Rhythm Method

I read a bit of this article by Luc Bovens in the most recent Harper's, and I thought it was worth sharing, particularly because my sister might find it enjoyable that I'm quoting from the Journal of Medical Ethics...
"It has not gone unnoticed by advocates of the pro-life movement that if one is concerned about abortion because of the moral turpitude of killing embryos (and fetuses) then one should also be concerned about various contraceptive techniques. Certainly, they say, one should be concerned about the morning after pill and intrauterine devices (IUDs), since these techniques block the implantation of a conceived ovum. This argument has been extended to the contraceptive pill as well. The contraceptive pill (i) changes the cervical mucus so that the passage of the sperm is blocked, (ii) inhibits ovulation, and (iii) affects the endometrium so that the uterus is not a hospitable environment for implantation. Of course this third route is only operational in preventing pregnancy if the first and second routes fail. It is not known in what percentage of cases the pill fails to block the sperm and fails to inhibit
ovulation and is effective only because it manages to block implantation. It is argued, however, that even if this is rarely the case, a great number of embryonic deaths are caused due to this aspect of pill usage. Randy Alcorn calculates that "even an infinitesimally low portion (say one hundredth of one per cent) of 780 million pill cycles per year globally could represent tens of thousands of unborn children lost to this form of chemical abortion annually".1

A concern for consistency has pushed advocates of the pro-life position into opposing all contraceptive techniques that cause embryonic deaths. Catholics might welcome this, since the official position of the church is that, aside from the rhythm method, no contraceptive techniques are permissible. This benefit is questionable. What has gone unnoticed is that, if one is willing to make a few relatively innocent assumptions, then the rhythm method may well be responsible for massive embryonic death and the same logic that turned pro-lifers away from morning after pills, IUDs and pill usage, should also make them nervous about the rhythm method."


LissyJo said...

Impressed, i am. I'm not exactly sure what the author's point was here. I would agree that the extreme right (catholic) belief that most hormonal birth control isn't a "true and holy" way of preventing pregnancy, but i wonder how they'd twistedly argue against the rhythm method?

Speaking of their twisted argument... Using hormonal birth control ceases ovulation. As a by product, womens' bodies get the fact they aren't ovulating, so do other things to their uterus and mucous (sorry, scooter) to avoid pregnancy because it gets the fact that if a slippery egg found it's way out, it might not be the best egg/sperm and so it probably should not work. Unfortunately, we list it as a reason hormonal birth control works, so the crazy christian right thinks this is they way hormonal birth control works.

It's a way the freaks can control women's bodies!

Justinian said...

1. It is one of the fundamental disconnects, because the real problem is not abortion ... it is unwanted pregnancies. Stop or prevent these and the abortion issue goes away.

2. I am familiar with the modern version of the "rhytm method" and though effective it is complicated.

3. One of the problem sis that when you speak of family planning or birth control to these types they immediately jump on to visions of lots of peole out there having sex all the time etc. The notion of using birth control with in a marriage never occurs to them, neither does the use of "the pill" for reasons other then birth control (i.e. cycle regulation etc.) The net effect is that these types come off in the public as sex obessed, and socially irresponsible (inconsistent as well as to many of them also favor the death penalty).

4. It is one of the reasons why I do not join them on the "March for Life" in WDC every year. This is not an issue for legislating morality, because a change in the law does not solve the real problem. This is an issue solved slowly one on one. I think it is something that everybody can agree no matter their view on abortion is that eliminating unwanted pregnancies is the real goal.