News & Commentary

Young Girls Are Over-Prescribed Birth Control Pills

This common medical practice can interfere with normal hormones and lead to side effects

BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

Young Girls Are Over-Prescribed Birth Control Pills (theepochtimes.com)

Some 14 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are currently taking hormonal birth control pills in America, according to government data. That’s more than 10 million people, about the equivalent of the entire population of Portugal.

According to a 2019 United Nations report, about 151 million women take the pill worldwide.

Kristin, a mom of two, was one of them. She was prescribed birth control pills when she was still in high school. While her doctor told her the pills would help with her headaches and irregular and heavy periods, no one talked to her about the risks associated with taking them.

However, when she was 20 years old, she had an elective surgery. Although Kristin had no complications from the surgery itself, a few days later, she was unable to take a full deep breath and she felt a pain in her arm. She knew something was seriously wrong, but she had no idea that she was having a pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism, which can be lethal, happens when a blood clot gets logged in an artery in the lungs.

This medical crisis, which kept her hospitalized for six days and on medication for six months afterward, was from taking hormonal birth control pills as a teen, Kristin told me.

“Everyone has been in agreement that it was from the birth control,” said Kristin, who asked not to use her last name because she’s currently part of a class-action lawsuit.

Oral Contraceptives Increase Risk of Death

Indeed, in 2018 a team of researchers, led by Dr. Lynn Keenan, M.D., at the University of California–San Francisco’s Fresno campus, found that women who use oral contraceptive are between three and nine times more likely to have of blood clots in the lungs, legs, and brain than women who don’t take oral contraceptives.

They also face a much higher risk of death because of blood clots. The same study found that between 300 and 400 healthy young women die unnecessarily every year due to hormonal birth control.

“Women should be informed of these risks,” the researchers concluded.

Pill Linked to Depression, Bloating

Taking hormonal birth control is also associated with a host of other negative health outcomes.

For example, a 2016 study of a million women in Denmark found that taking hormonal contraception was associated with depression, especially in teenagers.

Oral contraceptives have also been linked to lower levels of the steroid hormone DHEA in the blood and a decreased ability to gain muscle during exercise, according to a 2009 study.

Another older study, from 2008, found that these pills can cause bloating, while an earlier study found that oral contraceptives lead to women having more subcutaneous fat and other changes in the way the body stores fat.

Though many women report gaining weight while taking the pill, the peer-reviewed literature on this seems to be inconclusive, according to a 2014 Cochrane review.

It’s clear from the scientific literature, however, that oral birth control use also increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Routinely Prescribed, Not for Birth Control

“Neither of my daughters can menstruate on their own,” a mom of two young adults, ages 21 and 23, told me recently. “They’ve both been on the pill since they were teens.”

While girls in the United States usually begin menstruating around age 11 or 12, the onset of menses is widely variable and precocious puberty (before age 8) is becoming more common. Recent research from Italy has found that precocious puberty has increased during COVID-19. One team of researchers hypothesized that this may be due to stress, lack of sunlight, lack of exercise, and exposure to a higher number of environmental toxins, especially endocrine disruptors.

Doctors routinely prescribe birth control pills to tweens, teens, and young adults who are menstruating but not sexually active to treat the following conditions:

  • Acne
  • Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation)
  • Cramps and other menstrual pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Heavy periods
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • PMS and mood swings

I found this out when my oldest daughter, who is 22 now, was still in middle school.

“Mom,” she said to me one day, “I think I should take the pill to help me with my acne. That’s what my friends are doing and they say it works.”

Harms of Hormonal Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills disrupt the endocrine system, essentially fooling the body into believing it is pregnant, in order to stop ovulation.

We know we should try to avoid disrupting children’s hormones. As Joseph Braun, Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology at Brown University, explained in a 2017 peer-reviewed article, endocrine-disrupting chemicals increase the risk of childhood diseases “by disrupting hormonally mediated processes critical for growth and development,” and may be contributing to obesity and neurodevelopmental problems.

“In residency, you learn to use birth control like you learn to wash your hands,” said Nathan Riley, M.D., who is unabashedly critical of the practice of prescribing contraceptives to young woman to treat menstrual problems.

“You bring it out anytime that anyone has an issue,” Riley said. “We use it for everything. You’ve got a quote ‘lady problem’? Let’s put you on birth control.”

Then, he said, if the birth control pills themselves cause side effects, doctors add more prescription medications to the mix.

“Synthetic hormones lead to mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, among other things, all of this is well documented,” Riley said. “Women have complained about everything under the sun. But their doctors say it’s not the birth control. And instead of stopping the medication that started the problem, their doctor gives them an antidepressant.”

He believes this is harmful, arguing that the practice of rushing patients through appointments and writing prescriptions for the pill makes the pharmaceutical industry richer, while making female patients sicker.

Hormonal birth control alleviates symptoms without treating the underlying problems, he said. The key, he insisted when we spoke, is to treat the root cause of the menstrual irregularities.

For instance, a woman’s periods may be irregular because she’s severely anemic, either because she is not eating iron-rich foods or suffering from malabsorption.

Thyroid malfunction can also be at the root of menstrual irregularities, Riley said. As can poor liver function and disrupted gut health.

All of these health problems are treatable, he said. While prescription medications can help for the short-term, the goal is to get the body back in balance. To do so, he talks to his patients about making lifestyle changes, including dietary improvements, engaging in daily movement and exercise, getting adequate and high quality hydration, improving sleep, limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields, learning to do breathwork, and improving both your attitude and your emotional intelligence.

“Sometimes you do need a temporizing measure like birth control,” Riley said. “But it shouldn’t be used for long.”

Marie (her middle name) is a 32-year-old lawyer based on the East Coast. She was first prescribed birth control pills for endometriosis when she was 15, and it seemed to help.

Besides, she really liked taking the pill: It made her breasts bigger and cleared up her acne. So when her periods suddenly became more painful, even on the pill, and her doctor told her to start taking it continuously (so she would not menstruate at all), she didn’t think to question it.

Her doctors said taking the pill would help her avoid surgery for endometriosis. But she ended up having surgery anyway, in 2018, to cauterize tissue in her pelvic cavity.

It wasn’t until Marie had a miscarriage at age 27 and it took 15 months to get pregnant again—and only with the help of fertility drugs—that she started to regret taking hormonal birth control for so many years.

The science is inconclusive about whether the pill negatively affects fertility. In fact, some studies, such as one published in 2002 in Human Reproduction, show it may increase the odds of getting pregnant after quitting the pill.

But when I interviewed the late science writer Barbara Seaman, who had written several books about women and hormones, several years ago, she insisted that hormonal birth control is a causative factor in infertility and that it can take women as long as 12 to 24 months after taking the pill to become pregnant without assistance.

Marie, like many other women, is convinced her long-term use of birth control for endometriosis contributed to some of her continuing health challenges, including fertility issues.

“I was just not healthy as a teenager,” she confessed.

For Kristin, the decision to go on birth control as a teenager and subsequent pulmonary embolism made her two pregnancies more dangerous. She was considered high-risk and had to inject herself with anticoagulants during the pregnancy and for one month afterward.

“I will never be on any hormones ever again,” Kristin told me. “I really wish I knew of alternate, more natural ways to have treated my adolescent issues. The psychological damage it’s caused is irreversible. I hate how doctors are so quick to take out that pen and pad and throw meds at teenagers.”

Reprinted with permission from The Epoch Times (www.theepochtimes.com)

Birth control and blood clots


The 25-year-old model Hailey Bieber was hospitalized last month. Her face started drooping, and she found herself unable to speak. At the hospital, she learned that she had suffered a blood clot that caused a transient ischemic attack or ministroke. Bieber released a video explaining what caused what she called “the scariest moment of my life.”

Birth control was a factor that led to a blood clot in her brain. “I had just recently started birth control pills, which I should have never been on because I am somebody who suffered from migraines anyway. And I just did not talk to my doctor about this,” she said. “So ladies, if you suffer from bad migraines and you plan on being on birth control pills, make sure you tell your doctor because having a stroke is a potential side effect from birth control pills.”

Some types of birth control methods are linked to clotting problems. The pill, the patch, and the ring contain the hormone estrogen which increases the risk of dangerous blood clots. Although estrogen is known to affect multiple variables in the coagulation system, the exact molecular mechanism of estrogen-induced thrombosis is not totally understood. Estrogens in the pill, the patch, or the ring cause the body to hormonally imitate pregnancy. In doing so, they not only prevent pregnancy but program the woman’s body to produce more clotting factor proteins. Their bodies actually produce clotting to protect them from any bleeding challenge that might occur with a miscarriage or during childbirth. These same changes caused by hormonal contraception put women at an increased risk for blood clots.

How common is the risk to develop a blood clot?

According to the FDA if 10,000 women who are not pregnant and do not use birth control pills are followed for one year, between 1 and 5 of these women will develop a blood clot. The chance of clots is 2 to 6 times greater among women taking the pill vs. women who don’t use birth control and the risk increases 6.5 times for women using the ring. One reason patches and rings are more dangerous is because the amount of estrogen absorbed from them is reported to be 60 percent higher than the amount of estrogen delivered by pills. The risk is greater for a woman who has a clotting disorder, a family history of blood clots, or who previously experienced a blood clot.

How can you reduce your risk?

It is projected that 300- 400 healthy women will die from blot clots associated with the use of contraception. There are healthier and safer options for women to avoid the risk of blood clots associated with hormonal birth control use. Natural Family Planning (NFP), doesn’t have the side effects of hormonal birth control, is based on the understanding of the woman’s body, and can help women to monitor their reproductive health.

Women who suffer blot clot disorders can experience heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding at the time of ovulation each month. Heavy menstrual bleeding can be monitored with an NFP method and can be managed without the use of dangerous hormonal birth control. 

Creating babies to kill: The union of IVF and “selective reduction”

By Nancy Flanders 

Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology regarding selective reduction abortions suggests that “reducing” triplet pregnancies to singletons versus “reducing” to twins creates a better chance of seeing the surviving babies born at an older gestational age and a greater birth weight. But there are many ethical issues to unpack with regard to this research.

Selective reduction means that certain children are targeted for death in the womb as they grow alongside their siblings. given the fact that the majority of twins and triplets in the United States are created using fertility assistance such as IVF, this means they are being created only to be destroyed through selective reduction despite little proof that selective reduction abortion will save the lives of the other babies.

Kamran Hessami, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine said that it is “not completely clear” from the research whether reducing to singletons instead of to twins actually improves outcomes for the surviving babies. While the surviving singletons were born later and heavier than the surviving twins, there was “no substantial difference for the rates of early pregnancy loss and neonatal death,” according to the study.

This means that the twins had a greater chance of preterm birth but not of dying.

Additional research shows that the rate of loss is similar in triplet pregnancies that have been reduced compared to triplet pregnancies that have not been reduced. In this study of 132 triplet pregnancies, 30 sets of parents decided to abort one of the babies. 102 opted to manage the pregnancy with all three babies. While the women who aborted one of their babies delivered at a later average gestational age (32.52 weeks vs 34 weeks), there were no neonatal deaths for any of the babies. Four of the pregnancies in the non-abortion group were lost, compared to one in the selective reduction group, which researchers noted as “no difference.”

This begs the question: Why are doctors killing a triplet or two triplets with no proof that it will make a significant difference in the survival rates for the non-aborted sibling or siblings?

The answer seems to be that selective reduction may reduce some of the risks to the mother’s health associated with a triplet pregnancy. The non-abortion group experienced greater rates of preterm labor, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes, and spent more days in the hospital after birth. No mothers died in either group.

Creating babies to kill them

What isn’t mentioned in the research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology is how these babies came to be in the first place. The researchers identified 10 studies published between 2012 and 2020 involving 2,392 triplet pregnancies.

The natural twin pregnancy rate is about 2% while the twin pregnancy rate with fertility assistance is as high as 40%. More than one-third of the twins and more than three-quarters of the triplets and higher-order multiples born in the U.S. resulted from fertility treatments, signaling that many of the triplets in the study were created using IVF or other fertility assistance methods. In other words, these babies were purposefully created to meet adults’ desire to have a baby, but then, any “extra” babies were killed through selective reduction abortion.

Take Calli and Ashley, for example. They used a sperm donor and stimulated ovulation even though Calli knew she produced more follicles than the average woman. When she became pregnant, there were five babies — babies that she and her partner Ashley paid to create in order to fill their own desires. But five was too many, they decided, because they didn’t want Calli to have to go on bed rest or have one of them quit their jobs to take care of five babies. So they decided to kill three of the babies by injecting feticide into their beating hearts at 12 weeks.

Children are not products to be bought, sold, or returned. Yet that’s what is happening with selective reduction abortions. Children are being purposefully created by adults who know there is a risk of multiples, and then those adults are killing the extra children they created.

IVF increases pregnancy complication risk

While the health and life of the mother should be considered with the utmost respect and care, doctors know what the risks are and should therefore be prepared to handle them. There is a known increased risk to the mother’s health during pregnancies created using IVF — meaning that these parents and fertility specialists are not only creating “extra” babies that they later abort, but they also know that these mothers will be at an increased risk for complications.

Women who have had fertility treatments — especially IVF — are likely at a higher risk for serious pregnancy complications compared to women who become pregnant naturally. According to a study that looked at 814,000 births and stillbirths in Ontario between 2006 and 2012, rates of severe pregnancy complications were about 31 per 1,000 IVF-assisted pregnancies and 22 per 1,000 for natural pregnancies.

Overall, “[W]e found that the women who received infertility treatment, especially in vitro fertilization, were about 40 percent more likely to experience a severe pregnancy complication compared with women who gave birth without any treatment,” said Dr. Natalie Dayan, director of obstetrical medicine at McGill University Health Center, in a journal news release.

Killing instead of healing

Of the 2,392 triplet pregnancies the researchers analyzed, 1,903 were reduced to twins and 489 were reduced to singletons. The majority were killed through the use of potassium chloride injections to cause cardiac arrest, while 68 were killed through aspiration abortion.

One of the risks of selective reduction abortion is the miscarriage of the other babies. In the process of killing these “selectively reduced” human beings, no health conditions or illnesses were healed; they were killed in the hopes of preventing future complications for their mothers.

For many parents, it is fear alone that drives their decision to kill some of their babies in hopes that the others will thrive or that the mother’s health remains stable. But rather than instill fear in patients, it is important that those in the medical community offer hope. Doctors should be studying and learning how to best help all of the babies survive, and then implementing what they have learned.

Killing doesn’t advance medicine. Searching for ways to help does. Today, babies born at 21 weeks have a chance of surviving when given medical care. If certain doctors had never tried to save these babies, then progress would never have been made, and micro-preemies born today would still have no chance.

Meanwhile, preventable maternal deaths have been increasing in the United States despite wide access to abortion. There is a shortage of doctors offering maternity care, and what’s worse is that many doctors largely dismiss women’s symptoms until it’s too late.

It’s a horrific cycle. Fertility doctors allow the creation of ‘multiples’ pregnancies knowing the increased risk to women from both IVF and the number of children in the womb. Then they kill the babies they created and successfully implanted in an attempt to lessen those risks.

Doctors are meant to heal patients and help them thrive — all of them, not just the select few. Killing must never be a solution to health concerns that may arise. Mothers and babies deserve better.

Overpopulation myth challenged

Elon Musk challenges ‘overpopulation’ narrative, warns about risks of low birth rate – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

Eccentric billionaire and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has once again issued a warning about the risk posed by low birth rates, rejecting the assessments of global “experts” who continue to insist that there are too many people occupying the planet.

“Most people in the world are operating under the false impression that there are too many people,” Elon Musk told Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of German publishing company Axel Springer last week. 

“This is not true,” the 50-year-old Tesla and SpaceX founder said. “Earth could maintain a population many times the current level. And the birth rate has been dropping like crazy.”

Effectiveness Study of the Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning Program

A study published in the journal The Linacre Quarterly involved ten sites across the United States and Canada to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning (NFP). 

The Marquette Model of NFP uses urine fertility biomarkers collected at home that measure hormone levels.  These biomarkers can be used in conjunction with other biomarkers such as cervical mucus or basal body temperature and an algorithm to determine the woman’s fertility cycle.

The multisite study used Statistical Data Analysis to determine typical unintended pregnancy rates for a total of 1,221 women.

The authors of the study reported there were forty-two unintended pregnancies which provided a typical use unintended pregnancy rate of 6.7 per 100 women over twelve months of use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Marquette Method is as effective as the Pill, patch, ring, or injectable birth control methods.

Further analysis revealed that eleven of the forty-two unintended pregnancies were associated with the correct use of the method. The total unintended pregnancy rate over twelve months of use was 2.8 per 100 for women with regular cycles, 8.0 per 100 women for postpartum and breastfeeding women, and 4.3 per 100 for women with irregular menstrual cycles.

It was reported that The Marquette Model was effective when provided by health professionals who completed the Marquette Model NFP teacher training program.

The use of NFP includes the identification of important biomarkers during the fertility cycle. These signs can be used to identify not only fertile and infertile phases of the cycle but also potential health problems.  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology have recommended adolescents and young women monitor the menstrual cycle as a vital sign. Women of all reproductive ages benefit from monitoring their menstrual cycle to identify and monitor health problems such as unusual uterine bleeding, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, metabolic syndrome, eating disorders, and sub-fertility.

Healthcare providers can successfully incorporate NFP services into their practice with appropriate training. They will assist their patients to choose healthy and effective family planning methods. NFP programs can contribute to the promotion of health and prevention of disease.

Birth Control Can Negatively Affect  Muscle Gains in Young Women

Many young women who exercise regularly and use oral contraceptives (OCs) are not aware of the effects of hormones on their body composition. High-intensity workouts and weight-lifting exercises usually result in muscle gain. Taking potent hormones such as birth control pills could impair muscle response to standardized exercise.

A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the muscle growth of women on hormonal birth control and those who were not using hormonal contraception. The women were between the ages of 18-and 29 years and completed a 10-week total-body resistance training program designed to build muscle.

The authors of the study used hydrostatic weighing to determine body composition, and blood samples were taken before and after training to measure the hormones, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), IGF-1, and cortisol levels.

The authors reported that the group of women who were on hormonal birth control developed 40% less lean muscle mass than the women who were not taking hormonal birth control. Additionally, there were significant differences in lean mass gains depending on the type of progestin in hormonal contraceptives users. The more androgenic progestin used less muscle gain was found. Hormonal profiles at rest and post-workout showed that the women taking birth control had lower levels of anabolic hormones (DHEA, DHEAS, and IGF-1), but higher levels of cortisol.

Muscle growth is influenced by several hormones in the woman’s body. Testosterone and growth hormone cause muscle gain. In contrast, cortisol is a catabolic hormone, meaning it breaks muscle tissue down.

The authors of the study concluded that the diminished lean mass may be related to the effect of hormonal contraceptives on anabolic and catabolic hormone levels. Also, progestin present in hormonal contraceptives may bind to androgen receptors and inhibit its function.

Young women need to be informed of the side effects and hormonal changes caused by birth control. Although more research needs to be done in this area, safer alternatives to birth control need to be considered to achieve not only muscle-focused fitness goals but general health and wellbeing.

How birth control, pregnancy, and abortion each impact a woman’s breast cancer risk

Christina Bennett 

Birth control, abortion, and breast cancer risk – Natural Womanhood

Given that one in eight women receive a devastating breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, virtually all women—myself included—want to know their personal risk factors for developing breast cancer and how to reduce their risk.  You may have heard that one common personal risk factor, hormonal birth control  use, increases your risk for breast cancer only slightlyaround 20%—and that this effect eventually goes away. A closer look at the evidence, however, shows the risk may be much higher for a particular group of women: namely, young women who use hormonal birth control before their first full-term pregnancy. They are at increased risk for developing breast cancer because their breast tissue is not fully developed, and is thereby especially susceptible to carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer) like the synthetic estrogen and progestin in hormonal birth control.  

Women Breast Cancer Support Charity Concept

Your breast cancer risk may be relative to childbearing and hormonal birth control use

In a recent Natural Womanhood article, “Does birth control prevent—or cause—cancer?” I discussed the increased breast cancer risk experienced by women on hormonal birth control, and the theory that birth control may increase breast cancer risk by overstimulating a woman’s breast cells. But research suggests that a woman’s breast cancer risk may also be related to when she begins using hormonal birth control. 

A 2007 meta-analysis of 34 studies showed that the risk of developing breast cancer before menopause was 19% higher for women who used birth control—which aligns with the often cited 20% increased risk for breast cancer [1]. But that risk rose to 44% when birth control was started before women had their first full-term pregnancy, and rose to 52% when birth control was used at least four years before their first full-term pregnancy.  

Young women who began birth control before age 20 had nearly double the risk of developing breast cancer by age 30 when compared with their peers who started birth control after age 20.

In a 2010 meta-analysis of 54 studies, young women who began birth control before age 20 had nearly double the risk of developing breast cancer by age 30 when compared with their peers who started birth control after age 20 [2]. That risk decreased as the group of women aged, but suggests that starting birth control at such a young age, when most women have not yet had children, could greatly affect breast cancer risk.  

Pregnancy and breast cancer risk

Angela Lanfranchi, MD, co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has written an extensive peer-reviewed article as well as brochures about how breast tissue develops before and during pregnancy, and much of what follows is based on her writings and insights shared during an interview with Natural Womanhood.  

Birth control-induced changes to breast tissue make-up and why they matter

As Dr. Lanfranchi explains, the breast is made up of milk-producing structures called lobules, of which there are four types: 1, 2, 3, and 4. Each type represents a different stage of development, with type 1 being the least mature and type 4 being the most mature. Women who have never been pregnant and carried a child to term have breasts that are primarily made up of immature type 1 and 2 lobules. This makes their breasts more susceptible to carcinogens, because immature lobules have far more estrogen and progesterone receptors present than more mature type 3 and 4 lobules.

When type 1 or 2 lobules are exposed to estrogen and progesterone (including the synthetic versions found in hormonal birth control), their cells begin multiplying—and each time a cell splits into two, it runs the risk of making an error in the DNA, also known as a mutation. Mutations can lead to cancer.  “That’s why breast cancer will only start in immature lobules,” said Dr. Lanfranchi. She added that cancer simply “doesn’t happen” in type 3 or 4 lobules.  

Breast tissue make-up in women who have carried full-term pregnancies

In contrast, the breast cancer risk for women who have already carried a child to term may be less affected by hormonal birth control, precisely because their breast tissue has fully matured to type 4 lobules during pregnancy. 

By week 32 of pregnancy, or midway through the third trimester, 70% of the lobules have become type 4, and that proportion rises to 85% by the end of the third trimester. At delivery, the breast is made up of mostly mature, type 4 lobules—and, for the most part, once breast tissue has matured, it stays that way. And while the appearance of the breast lobules does transition to type 3 after a child stops breastfeeding, the protective benefits of a full-term pregnancy against breast cancer development are largely permanent.  

How breast tissue make-up is connected to the type of breast cancer diagnosis

Breast cancer that forms in type 1 lobules, known as ductal cancer, makes up about 85% of breast cancer diagnoses (type 1 lobules are mostly made up of ductal cells, hence why cancer in this area is named ductal cancer). Nearly the rest of breast cancer is found in type 2 lobules, and termed lobular cancer. Only rarely does breast cancer form elsewhere in the breast, such as in the muscle, fat, or blood vessels.  

When pregnancy ends prematurely, your breast cancer risk goes up 

Another important aspect of breast development is what happens to a woman’s breast tissue when she gets pregnant, but the pregnancy ends before full-term. Evidence suggests that when pregnancy is interrupted, either through an induced abortion, spontaneous miscarriage, or delivery before 32 weeks, the risk for breast cancer temporarily rises, because the types 1 and 2 lobules have multiplied but not yet matured into types 3 and then 4 lobules [3]. In essence, Dr. Lanfranchi explained, “Abortion [and, likewise, miscarriage and preterm delivery] increases your risk of breast cancer because it leaves your breasts with more places for cancers to start.”

To complicate matters, abortion can also increase breast cancer risk by hindering future full-term pregnancies. Abortion procedures can permanently weaken the cervix, a structure critical for carrying a baby to term. Research shows that pregnant women who previously had an abortion go on to have a higher risk of delivering their subsequent baby or babies early [4]. As with any woman who delivers prematurely, if a woman who has had a prior abortion goes on to have a subsequent pregnancy where she delivers before her type 1 and type 2 lobules mature around 32 weeks, she may not develop fully mature, cancer-resistant breast tissue–and therefore have a heightened risk for developing breast cancer. 

Given that 7 in 100 women taking hormonal birth control become pregnant within a year, and that many choose abortion with more than 600,000 procedures done in the United States in 2019 alone, women need better options for preventing pregnancy that do not involve synthetic hormones—and they need to be fully informed about the risks to their health that accompany abortion. Natural Womanhood encourages women to use fertility awareness methods, which have efficacy rates of preventing pregnancy that are equal or superior to the Pill, without the breast cancer risk and other harmful side effects of hormonal birth control.  

References:

[1] Kahlenborn C, et al. Oral contraceptive use as a risk factor for premenopausal breast cancer: a meta-analysis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Oct;81(10):1290-302. doi: 10.4065/81.10.1290. PMID: 17036554.

[2] Bjelic-Radisic, V., Petru, E. Hormonelle Kontrazeption und Brustkrebsrisiko. Wien Med Wochenschr 160, 483–486 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10354-010-0807-0

[3] Melbye, M., Wohlfahrt, J., Andersen, AM. et al. Preterm delivery and risk of breast cancer. Br J Cancer 80, 609–613 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjc.6690399

[4] Shah PS, Zao J; Knowledge Synthesis Group of Determinants of preterm/LBW births. Induced termination of pregnancy and low birth weight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analyses. BJOG. 2009 Oct;116(11):1425-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2009.02278.x. PMID: 19769749.

Depo-Provera and HIV transmission:
WHO to trust?

The following article about Depoprovera and HIV transmission guidelines was published in DifferenTakes. It is a publication of the Population and Development Program PopDev (hampshire.edu)

Editor’s note

Concerns about Depo-Provera and increased rates of HIV transmission are of vital importance to women’s health, especially to those at high risk of HIV acquisition. Despite compelling evidence of a Depo-Provera-HIV link and regulatory bodies’ unclear guidance around the method’s use,1 distribution of the injectable contraceptive has been on the rise. For instance, in 2017 the Indian government began offering free Depo injections through its public health system, despite opposition from women and health groups in India.2 Since 2008, a public-private partnership has tested and distributed the Sayana Press, which delivers a lower dosage formulation of Depo-Provera, in countries including Uganda, Senegal, and Niger.3

In this DifferenTakes, scholar C. Sathyamala critically examines the ECHO trial, which aimed to conclusively answer the Depo-Provera-HIV question. It ended in spring 2019. The author argues that the trial results add to the existing evidence that Depo-Provera increases the risk of HIV transmission. She challenges the World Health Organization’s June 13 statement reporting “no link.” This stance, she argues, dangerously misrepresents the study’s findings and, further, disregards key critical challenges, including those from AIDS and reproductive justice activists. As the author argues, the World Health Organization guidance fails to appropriately warn users of the potential risk associated with Depo-Provera use and wrongly concludes that it is “safe.”
— Anne Hendrixson

World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend: “Women at a high risk of HIV infection are eligible to use all progestogen-only contraceptive methods without restriction(MEC Category 1), including progestogen-only pills (POPs), intramuscular and subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-IM and DMPA-SC), norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN), levonorgestrel (LNG)
implants and etonogestrel (ETG) implants.”

Read Article HERE

Endnotes

  1. See for instance Marion Stevens, “Elevated Risk: Injectable Contraceptives and HIV—a Reproductive Justice
    Perspective from the Global South,” DifferenTakes, no. 90, Summer 2017, https://sites.hampshire.edu/popdev/
    elevated-risk-injectable-contraceptives-and-hiv-a-reproductive-justice-perspective-from-south-africa/;
  2. Shaifali Agrawal, “Risking Health Of Its Women, India Uses Controversial Contraceptive In Family
    Planning Programme,” IndiaSpend, October 18, 2017, https://archive.indiaspend.com/cover-story/
    risking-health-of-its-women-india-uses-controversial-contraceptive-in-family-planning-programme-36857
  3. See Daniel Bendix, Ellen E. Foley, Anne Hendrixson and Susanne Schultz, “Targets and Technologies: Sayana Press and Jadelle in
    Contemporary Population Policies,” Gender, Place & Culture, https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2018.1555145
  4. Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) Trial Consortium, “HIV Incidence Among Women Using
    Intramuscular Depotmedroxyprogesterone Acetate, a Copper Intrauterine Device or a Levonorgestrel Implant for Contraception:
    A Randomised, Multicentre, Open-label Trial,” The Lancet, (June 13, 2019) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31288-7
  5. See for instance, World Health Organization, “Hormonal Contraceptive and HIV: Science and Policy,” Geneva: World Health
    Organization, 2005, (https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/family_planning/nairobi_statement.pdf)
  6. Renee Heffron, Deborah Donnell, Helen Rees, et al., “Use of Hormonal Contraceptives and Risk of HIV-1 Transmission: A
    Prospective Cohort Study” Lancet Infectious Diseases, vol. 12, (February 2012): 19–26.
  7. Paula Donovan, “The UN’s Gag Order on Reproductive Health,” AIDS-Free World, February 13, 2012, http://pharmpdf.com/a/
    aids-freeworld.org1.html
  8. World Health Organization, “Hormonal Contraception and HIV: Technical Statement. WHO/RHR/12.08.” Geneva: WHO, 2012,
    https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/family_planning/Hormonal_contraception_and_HIV.pdf
  9. G. Justus Hofmeyr, Charles S. Morrison, Jared Baeten, et al., “Rationale and Design of a Multi-center, Open-label, Randomised
    Clinical Trial Comparing HIV Incidence and Contraceptive Benefits in Women Using Three Commonly-used Contraceptive
    Methods (the ECHO study), [version2; referees 2 approved],” Gates Open Research (2018), 1, 17. https://doi.org/10.12688/
    gatesopenres.12775.2
  10. Gianni Di Perri, “How Does Contraceptive Use Increase the Risk of HIV Acquisition?” 15th European AIDS conference, October 21-
    24, 2015, https://www.eacsociety.org/files/giovanni_di_perri.pdf
  11. Lauren J. Ralph, Sandra I. McCoy, Timothy Hallet and Nancy Padian, “Next Steps for Research on Hormonal Contraception and
    HIV,” The Lancet, vol. 382, no.9903 (June 28, 2013): 1467–1469. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61420-8
  12. World Health Organization. “Hormonal Contraceptive Methods for Women at High Risk of HIV and Living with HIV, 2014 Guidance
    statement,” (2014), http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/128537/1/WHO_RHR_14.24_eng.pdf?ua=1
  13. Lillian Mworeko and Mitchell Warren, “Women’s Response to new WHO statement on DMPA,” Letter to Dr. Margaret Chan,
    Director General of the World Health Organization and Dr. James Kiarie, Coordinator, Human Reproduction Team, World Health
    Organization. Undated. https://www.avac.org/sites/default/files/u3/CivilSocietyWHOresponse.pdf
  14. Ibid

Meet the advertising expert who inspired today’s anti-population propaganda

by Peter Jacobsen

Billboards have begun to pop up throughout Portland with a surprisingly personal message: stop having kids. While the idea itself is a bad one, as I’ll discuss later, one interesting question to ask is, where did this sentiment come from?

I’m not interested in diving into the history of the particular organization behind this campaign. Instead, a more interesting question is where and when did this sentiment in the United States originate?

To understand the roots of this misanthropic movement, we need to meet the advertising expert who used his fortune and expertise for the primary purpose of decreasing the number of humans: Hugh Moore (1887–1972).

Although not all roads lead to Moore, a significant portion of anti-population activities are connected to him. Moore’s most well-known claim to fame is his founding of the Dixie Cup Company, but he was aided by years of working in advertising.

Moore worked as an advertising solicitor for various publications including The Reform in Kansas City and then for The Packer where he was promoted to ad manager while in his second year of attendance at Harvard. Moore left the advertising business to run the Dixie cup company, but he never gave up on his interest in advertising. In fact, he channeled it elsewhere: anti-population propaganda.

Moore was inspired by William Vogt’s book Road to Survival which convinced him population growth would lead to the spread of wars and communism, among other calamities. So Moore got to work using his money and power to influence population discourse and policy.

Arguably, Moore’s most important influence was over Maj. General William Henry Draper Jr. General Draper’s influence on President Nixon was particularly important. Draper, a friend of Moore’s, was convinced of the dangers of population in part by Moore.

Moore’s influence through Draper began with the Draper Committee formed by then President Eisenhower. The committee itself was noted for being “top heavy with military men,” in the words of Senator William Fulbright.

The day after the committee was assembled, Hugh Moore sent his friend a lengthy wire which concluded, “If your committee does not look into the impact and implications of the population explosion, you will be derelict in your duty.”

The Draper committee made three recommendations:

  1. assistance to “developing” countries in establishing programs to check population growth
  2. increased assistance to maternal and child health programs
  3. support for research programs on population, including research by other countries and the United Nations.

According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), this report and the conclusions were central to USAID (the international aid branch of the US government) establishing an Office of Population under President Richard Nixon.

Nixon wasn’t the first president to be influenced by the newly forming population lobby. His predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, was also influenced by Draper. In 1965, Draper and other members of the population establishment began to work on changes to the “Food for Peace” law which would give additional funding to countries that utilized population policies.

Outside of government, Moore worked diligently to tie aid success to population control. In 1969 he sponsored newspaper advertisements with the heading, “Latin American Aid Nullified by Population Explosion.”

And throughout his presidency, LBJ was thoroughly convinced of the relevance of population to aid. In a call with an advisor on famine in India, Johnson argued the country should be withheld aid because of their population.

“I’m not going to piss away foreign aid in nations where they refuse to deal with their own population problems,” Johnson said.

Over the next decade, India would take on one of the largest forced sterilization campaigns in history. The UNFPA went on to give India (and China) an Award for the population program in 1983.

As previously mentioned, Draper’s report was extremely influential on Richard Nixon as well. During Nixon’s administration, a new report was commissioned which would become one of the most infamous pieces of US population policy history.

In the early 1970s Nixon commissioned a report later made national policy by President Ford—National Security Study Memorandum 200. The report is surprisingly candid. NSSM 200 states,

“The U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries… That fact gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States.”

In other words, the US government was interested in lowering foreign populations in order to increase US access to raw materials. The report recognizes this sort of policy sounds bad. The solution? Don’t get caught.

“We must take care that our activities should not give the appearance to the LDCs of an industrialized country policy directed against the LDCs. Caution must be taken that in any approaches in this field we support in the LDCs are ones we can support within this country. ‘Third World’ leaders should be in the forefront and obtain the credit for successful programs. In this context it is important to demonstrate to LDC leaders that such family planning programs have worked and can work within a reasonable period of time” (NSSM 200).

The report discusses in detail how non-government organizations and foreign organizations can be used to provide cover. Lastly, and most chillingly, the report offers no clear condemnation of involuntary programs.

“In these sensitive relations, however, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion” (Emphasis added).

The report recommends influencing external actors to create, “improved world-wide support for population-related efforts” through “increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs.”

Moore’s influence wasn’t limited to his influence on Draper. Moore’s public propaganda campaign began with his 1954 publication of the proactively titled pamphlet, “The Population Bomb.”

Demographers concerned about population were initially surprised by his colorful tactics, but Moore trusted his own marketing savvy. He told one demographer, “[y]ou’ve been raised in academic halls. I’ve been raised in the market place. I’m used to presenting facts dramatically. Students of demography have talked for years and nobody listened.”

The population bomb propaganda was a hit. The New York Times ran an article echoing the propaganda called The Population Explosion in May, 1961.

Moore’s phrase was also adopted by someone whose popularity overshadowed his own. Ecologist Paul Ehrlich asked if he could borrow the title for his 1968 book. Moore was happy to support Ehrlich’s book, which gained widespread popularity and even led to Ehrlich appearing on the TV show at the center of American television: Johnny Carson Tonight.

Hugh Moore paid for a slew of advertisements through his self-financed organization The Hugh Moore Fund. In a letter to Draper, Moore admitted to his intentional strategy of using mass marketing gimmicks.

“[W]e must gather the best and most clever public relations people, motivation experts, advertising specialists, sociologists…who can contribute to a no-fail campaign…There are geniuses in communications and selling who have sold the American public every gee-gaw and gimmick conceivable.”

The vehicle of paid space in newspapers was chosen. In his notes he wrote,

“[t]he Hugh Moore Fund has tried within its slender resources to meet this need by using paid space, for in paid space you can tell people what they should do, when they should do it and where.”

In 1967, Moore’s fund created “The Campaign to Check the Population Explosion” with Emerson Foote, the famous ex Tobacco advertising mogul, as the chair. The campaign created several advertisements. Here are two examples:

Many of these ads were published in paid space in the New York Times. This uses a favorite propaganda phrase: “the population bomb”. pic.twitter.com/oxzwJYkbdc— Peter Jacobsen (@PeterPashute) March 29, 2022

The first ad, particularly heavy handed, suggests if population growth continues unchecked, you may be mugged! These are just two examples, but the ads targeted society, politicians, and even the Catholic church.

Along with the Hugh Moore fund and the Campaign to Check the Population Explosion, Moore supported, headed, and founded several other anti-population organizations. Notably, Moore became the president of The Human Betterment Association and renamed the organization The Association for Voluntary Sterilization, to more boldly articulate its mission.

Moore also founded the Population Crisis Committee (with Draper), which later changed its name to what it is today—Population Action International. Moore was also Chairman of the Population Reference Bureau, a think tank dedicated to supporting “evidence-based policies” related to demography and health. He also served as VP of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Many of these organizations continue to exist today and attempt to influence public policy and public opinion in the same way Moore did during his lifetime. So although the billboard in Portland couldn’t be Moore’s personal handiwork seeing as he died in 1972, it’s likely that the legacy of Moore’s money, advertising strategy, and influence on ideas is somewhere at the root.

In a recent Atlantic article, Derek Thompson explores why US population has cratered. The author concludes, “U.S. has too few births, too many deaths, and not enough immigrants” (emphasis added). One can’t help but wonder if the millions of dollars spent on anti-population activity is to blame.

Unfortunately for the world, Moore spent the last years of his life promoting an idea that’s simply wrong. This ideology, which persists today (as seen in Portland) is an overly simplistic view of population.

Moore, Draper, Ehrlich, and the modern anti-natalists share an incomplete view of humanity. Anti-natalists generally share a modified version of the thesis of Thomas Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population.

The thesis is simple: human beings are consumers, and their consumption grows faster than their ability to produce with their laborer. Malthus argued that food growth is linear but population growth is exponential.

Another way to understand Malthus’ fear of population is with the law of diminishing marginal returns (which Malthus originated). The law says that, beyond some point, the more of a homogeneous input (like labor) you add to the production process, the less productive each additional unit will become.

Since the addition is decreasing while consumption needs remain the same, eventually the population will outpace productive powers. Malthus’s concern was about food, although the same argument is occasionally made with reference to the environment, for example.

The problem with this argument is that humans are, in fact, not homogeneous blobs of labor. People are creative and entrepreneurial, and they use those talents to create new products and institutional systems which allow “finite” resources to effectively multiply.

This does not mean the law of returns isn’t true, only that it requires everything else to be held constant. But, in the real world, things are rarely held constant. Advances in technology and production processes can cause returns to increase.

For example, with the invention of more fuel efficient vehicles, a fixed supply of oil is able to produce more services than before. Likewise, anti-pollution technologies can actually cause environments to improve as countries grow richer. This logic has been confirmed empirically by Nobel Prize winner Simon Kuznets’ environmental Kuznets curve.

Not everyone was fooled during Moore’s campaign. Economist Julian Simon noticed that the data simply didn’t reflect the doom and gloom of these anti-natalists. Simon challenged and beat Ehrlich in a bet on improving resource availability, and poked fun at Moore’s “HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MUGGED?” propaganda in the first edition of his book, The Ultimate Resource.

The only source of solutions to the environmental problems we face today exist in the human mind. Future generations will be at the forefront of solving today’s problems, and more minds are better than fewer.

So don’t let a billboard in Portland based on decades-old propaganda made by advertising moguls deter you. Don’t stop having kids. If you want kids—have kids. The world will be better off for it.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

How Contraception Destroys Relationships

By Vince Sakcsteder

To know how contraception damages relationships call for taking a good look at the way human relationships come about. It all starts with the relationship between a mother and a child. The mother needs a solid, healthy relationship with the father, and the relationship between mother, father, and child becomes the nucleus of a vast array of relationships. It works like this:

Bearing and rearing a child means freely accepting the immense burdens of

• pregnancy

• infant care

• training the child (or children)

• supporting them for many years while they cannot support themselves, and

• providing occasional support and guidance for many years after that.

For this to work well, it requires a strongly bonded couple who will devote a great deal of time, energy, and resources to this process. Needs that they cannot cover will require help from other members of their community, which causes a large network of support persons to grow around them.

How can two free human beings willingly involve themselves in such a challenging process? It seems impossible. But reproduction is so important to our genes that we can say confidently that biology strongly supports this choice. We know a lot about how this happens because we have all seen it happen or experienced it ourselves. It comes in two stages: A) formation of the pair bond, and B) the biological consequences of living as a bonded pair.

A) Pair bonding

We all know bonded pairs. They are pervasive in all societies all over the world. The steps by which the bond forms are very familiar:

1) After puberty we find ourselves attracted to members of the opposite sex

2) One such person begins to have a stronger attraction for us.

3) The attraction strengthens and that person becomes the center of our universe, the most wonderful person we have ever met, the summation of all our hopes and dreams. Lots of songs and poems have been written about this phase. It is intense. This is called “infatuation.” It is driven by a fairly well-known set of hormones that remain in effect for about two years.

4) We spend as much of our time as possible with that one.

5) After much time and much communication, we formalize that bond in a way that involves the wider community.

6) We make a home together and begin having children.

Of course, life is hardly ever this neat and tidy, but these are the basics. We can see the driving force of our genes in every step. For example, people don’t choose to go through puberty, their genes do that for them. Similarly, people don’t choose to fall madly in love with someone, it “just happens.” These are the steps biology decrees for the beginning of the human pair bond, which is the core of the human reproductive strategy.

B) Life as a bonded pair.

After the infatuation, hormones are reduced, and IF the couple has been able to find some common ground, a set of maintenance hormones develops that can keep the bond going indefinitely, but the experience is very different. If, however, they discover that they have nothing in common, the relationship often fails. When they have children, this helps greatly. If they don’t, they still have their freedom. They can find another basis for the relationship, but might not. A significant portion of our married couples divorce after one and a half to two years, and then try to find someone else they can “love.”

Sexual relations, before or after the infatuation period, also produce bonding hormones, but, sooner or later, the effect wears thin. This is a harsh reality, but, like anything real, we can’t ignore it or just wish it away. It forces us to give the relationship a foundation stronger than sensations or emotions or else quit the relationship. We all know people who have gone through this crisis, and we know that some choose one way and some the other.

When children come into an established relationship, another whole set of hormones steps into action. We find child-rearing/family building pleasurable in ways we never would have expected, many of them obviously driven by our biology.

Couples with children will always encounter needs that they cannot meet themselves, so they become the nucleus of a larger community that contributes to the care of the children. Thus clans, tribes, nations, and whole world systems arise.

What can go wrong?

The bonding process can be derailed at almost any point:

In steps 1) or 2) some males find easy pleasure in various experiences of uncommitted sex, and some females may find something satisfying in that also. We all know or have heard of people who, “never grow up.” This forming and breaking of multiple partial bonds becomes unsatisfying, or even miserable, so some wind up looking for something better and may move on.

In steps 3) and 4) the couple find each other intensely attractive and sometimes become sexually involved. When this happens, one of the harsher aspects of biology tends to step in: We are genetically programmed to seek a reproductive partner. For the male, that means finding a mate who will dependably produce only his offspring. An “easy” girl isn’t that. This sort of relationship has no future. Similarly, the female is “programmed” to seek a dependable helper and provider. She really needs an extended period of communication so that she can have confidence in this person. The male also needs to have confidence that this woman is worth sacrificing his freedom and his whole future. Sex at this stage leaves them with unanswered questions and unresolved anxieties which will certainly burden the relationship and may terminate it.

Steps 5 and 6: Once the couple’s relationship is formally and publicly recognized, the beginning of the bonding process is complete. With the arrival of children, the couple’s biology introduces them to many satisfactions they likely never expected. Working together, they acquire a common perspective on many issues. Maturity “happens.” Sexual contact becomes deeply meaningful since they now know by experience that it opens their lives to massive unpredictable changes.

Marriage without children presents different challenges, but if they have done a good job of communicating during the infatuation stages, they still have the strong beginnings of a relationship and can find something that they can share and find mutually fulfilling. They will likely do many small and large things for each other, not based on wanting something in return. They will also find ways to benefit the larger community together “just because”. This is practical, effective love.

Heterosexual contact not dominated by contraception can also have a relationship-building effect. Each member of the pair is risking his or her entire future in every sexual connection. This has a unifying force that defies description. Conversely, sex that seeks only momentary pleasure has a brutally divisive effect, because, in fact, his sensations and emotions can never be her sensations and emotions, and vice-versa.

Contraception

In all of these phases, the effect of contraception can be, and likely will be, devastating:

The culture of contraception leads people to assume that sex is an intense, but meaningless, pleasure. After puberty, this can lead to many short, painful relationships that make it harder to form meaningful relationships later on.

Contraceptive use during infatuation is likely to lead to premature sexual involvement. The extremely important communication phase is short-circuited, leaving them no way to move forward once the infatuation hormones wear off.

If a married couple uses contraception, they will experience sexual contact devoid of meaning. After repeated sexual encounters with someone who, “just doesn’t care about me,” their relationship becomes more and more abrasive. Sooner or later their reasons for staying together become unconvincing. We see these things happening all around us.

What to do

Humans have an amazing ability to shape their behavior toward satisfying outcomes. Practically speaking, this means that when we know that some behavior will make us happy, we will likely choose that way. The opposite is also true. Note that this is not absolute. We all have experienced making disastrous choices even when we “knew” that trouble would arise. The overall pattern, however, is that we can learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others.

To help ourselves and those we care for, then, means taking three basic steps: 1) know the truth, 2) tell the truth, and 3) live the truth. None of these steps is easy or simple, but if we want satisfying outcomes, we MUST put in the necessary effort. God bless you!!

Parents, You Are the First Educators

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

The practice of decency and modesty in speech, action and dress is very important for creating an atmosphere suitable for the growth of chastity, but this must be well motivated by respect for one’s own body and the dignity of others. Parents, as we have said, should be watchful so that certain immoral fashions and attitudes do not violate the integrity of the home, especially through misuse of the mass media.

─ The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, The Pontifical Council for the Family, no. 56

Progressives and LGBT activists are in an uproar over a bill that was just passed in Florida, which they have dubbed – rather disingenuously – the “don’t say gay” bill.

The actual title of the legislation is the Parental Rights in Education bill. As the title suggests, the bill aims to ensure that parents hold the cards in terms of what their children are taught about sex at the earliest ages.

In brief, the bill states that children in kindergarten through grade three are not given classroom instruction on topics such as sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also requires that parents be informed about changes in services related to their child’s physical or psychological health.

As the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Joe Harding, made clear, this latter provision is designed to prevent the growing number of cases where school staff are introducing or asking children about such topics as sexual orientation or gender identity, and then encouraging the children to keep those conversations secret from their parents. As I have written recently, there have been cases where parents have only found out that their child now identifies as “transgender” long after school staff knew, in some cases because a staff member had actively encouraged the child.

“We have a choice to empower parents in Florida or we have a choice to empower school districts. I’m asking you to side with the side of parents in Florida,” Rep. Harding said.

Early in the debate, opponents of the bill hit upon the strategy of labeling it the “don’t say gay” bill, arguing (falsely) that the bill would ban the word “gay” from the classroom. Practically every mainstream news outlet in the country cynically ran with this hysterical propaganda. In recent days liberal legislators and activists have engaged in truly childish antics, such as chanting “We say gay!” during legislative hearings.

Fortunately, their efforts have not paid off. Last Tuesday the bill passed the Florida Senate in a 22-17 vote. As the bill had already handily passed the state House in late February in a 69-47 vote, it will now be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature. Given that Gov. DeSantis has signaled his support for the legislation, its passage into law seems to be a fait accompli.

Sex Education. Male and female sex symbol on black chalkboard. Woman draws gender symbols

Graphic Sex-Ed Camps

If there is any doubt that such legislation is very much needed, it should be put to rest by news recently making the rounds about the growing trend of sex-ed camps aimed at kids.

As Live Action reports, one online camp that was aimed at teens included explicit “education” about masturbation, BDSM, transgenderism, abortion, and even (it boggles the mind) having sex while using illegal drugs.

Here are the titles of some of the presentations from this camp: “Sex with ME — Self pleasure,” “Sexy Trans Sex Ed,” “Self-Managed Abortion Info Share,” “Reproductive Health: The Basics,” “Sex on Drugs,” “The 3 P’s: Pee, Poop, and Pleasure,” and “Contraceptive Options.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the individuals leading the camp, Tanya Turner, calls herself a witch. Her passion seems to be for encouraging children, starting with toddlers, to masturbate. “Masturbation is really healthy and I recommend it to people of all ages,” she said. “All ages. As soon as my nephews could talk, they were doing that.”

Among information provided to teens during the camp was info from the World Health Organization (WHO) about how to perform a self-abortion by ordering abortion drugs and administering them at home. Besides the horrific fact that teens are being taught how to go about killing their unborn children, also troubling is the heedlessness towards the health of the teens themselves, given everything we know about the dangers and trauma involved in DIY medical abortions.

Another sex-ed camp, the “Spring Break Sex-Ed Camp,” was supposed to be held March 14-17 at libraries in the city of Austin. Organizers of this camp planned to pay teenagers $100 to attend (why on earth, one wonders, are adults luring teens to hear about sex with cash payments?). That camp, however, has now been cancelled after a backlash.

Meanwhile, Not the Bee reports on another sex-ed summer camp in Indianapolis, this one aimed at children in grades 3-5. Children in those grades are only eight to ten years old.

After showing disturbing screenshots from the organizer’s social media feed, Not the Bee notes, “This is being hosted by an individual who thinks that kids should be learning ‘non-binary’ vocabulary, taught how to wear a condom, and be ‘responsibly’ introduced to pornography.”

The site adds, “This lady is a literal groomer.”

Comprehensive Sex-Ed As Grooming

That last remark is worth focusing on.

Perhaps the strangest thing about these camps is that apparently there are parents who think it a good idea to use spring break or summer vacation for a camp that’s all about having adult strangers talk to their children in graphic detail about sex. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned camps, where kids learned to canoe, fish, play sports, and generally enjoy their friends and their childhood?

It’s bad enough that these children are being robbed of the opportunity to enjoy the sort of innocent fun that we all had as children, and instead are being dragged into the dark and complicated world of a very disturbed brand of adult sexuality. However, what’s worse is that there are very real concerns that these kids are being used to fuel the sexual kicks and fantasies of disturbed adults.

Imagine for an instant if the Catholic Church was offering such camps. It would make the national headlines with people accusing the Church of being “perverted,” “sick,” or “disgusting.” Many of the same LGBT activists running these camps, or the journalists that defend them, would be wringing their hands about how the Church is “grooming” children for sexual abuse.

Well, why is it any different when other adults who seem to have a bizarre fixation on sex spend all day talking to young kids, in graphic detail, about sex? It isn’t!

“Grooming” involves breaking down a person’s normal and healthy sexual boundaries, in order to get them to engage in sexual behaviors that benefit the exploiter. Adults who sexually abuse children, for instance, will often first introduce them to pornography. The goal is to pique the curiosity of their victims and to convince them that engaging in sexual behaviors is perfectly “normal.” Then the abuse begins in earnest.

There is simply no conceivable reason why children and teenagers need to know all the details about having sex while using drugs, BDSM, bizarre transgender practices, and all the minute ins-and-outs of contraception, abortion, and pornography. However, there are clearly adults who feel a curiously strong urge to teach them about these things. That should set off every alarm bell in the head of any loving parent, as well as any rational adult with a moral compass.

Parents, Take Charge of Sex-Ed

Unfortunately, parents who are striving to raise their children to have a healthy understanding of sexuality face enormous challenges in today’s culture.

As the Pontifical Council for the Family noted in the opening section of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexualityit used to be the case that “the general culture was permeated by respect for fundamental values and hence served to protect and maintain them” (no. 1). Even if the family failed to provide sex education, in many cases children still naturally absorbed positive and healthy ideas about family and sexuality. Such ideas – e.g., that sex should be kept for marriage, or that children are a positive good – were simply in the cultural water.

Now, however, everything is different. Not only are movies, music, and social media aimed at children often filled with sexual innuendo and subtle or not-so-subtle jabs at marriage and the family, but also there are activists who have learned that they can practically get away with murder, so long as they claim to be engaged in “sex education.”

There is absolutely no excuse, as parents, for allowing these people within a hundred miles of your children. As the Vatican has stated, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with sex-ed in school, so long as it is grounded in a true moral worldview, is presented in an age-appropriate way, and parents are proactively kept in the loop and given the choice to opt their children out if preferred.

However, it is a grave mistake simply to outsource sex-ed to third parties, even if that third party is the most faithful Catholic teacher in the world. Education – including sex education – begins in the home. Whatever happens in school (with your knowledge and permission) should be, at most, intended to augment, not replace, an ongoing conversation between parents and child.

As the Vatican laments in The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, “In many cases parents have given up their duty in this field or agreed to delegate it to others, because of the difficulty and their own lack of preparation” (no. 1).

No matter how well you might control the flow of media into your house, we live in an age where your children are bound, one way or another, to encounter ideas or content that would have shocked our parents and grandparents. Rather than waiting for that to happen, get out ahead and start open, age-appropriate conversations with your children, arming them with the tools they need to detect problematic materials, and the confidence and trust to approach you with questions and concerns when they do.

“The Church has always affirmed that parents have the duty and the right to be the first and the principal educators of their children,” note the authors of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, and this because “having given and welcomed life in an atmosphere of love, parents are rich in an educative potential which no one else possesses” (no. 5).

They add: “The normal and fundamental method [of sex education] … is personal dialogue between parents and their children, that is, individual formation within the family circle. In fact there is no substitute for a dialogue of trust and openness between parents and their children, a dialogue which respects not only their stages of development but also the young persons as individuals” (no. 129).

It is encouraging to see Florida taking proactive measures to protect parental rights and to defend our children from ideologues who would steal their innocence. Let us pray that other states follow their example.

Why Do Few Women Know the Dangers of the Pill?

Why Do Few Women Know the Dangers of the Pill? (theepochtimes.com)

BY MARTHA ROSENBERG

Mike Gaskins is a women’s health advocate, independent researcher, and author who spent much of the past decade exploring the dubious history and science of birth control. In a recent interview, Epoch Times contributor Martha Rosenberg asked him about his 2019 book, “In the Name of the Pill,” the culmination of his investigation, which was recently updated in its audiobook release.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/why-do-few-women-know-the-dangers-of-the-pill_4325857.html

World Health Organization social media post lists Down syndrome as a birth defect to be ‘prevented’

 

Individuals with Down syndrome and their families were shocked and disheartened by a recent social media post from The World Health Organization (WHO) last week that listed Down syndrome as a birth defect that can be prevented. However, there is no way to prevent Down syndrome itself. “Eliminating” Down syndrome really means eliminating those who have the condition through abortion.

“Today is World Birth Defects Day,” WHO originally wrote on March 3, according to the screenshot below. “Most birth defects can be prevented and treated with access to quality maternal and newborn care. Yet, every year, they cause the deaths of close to 250,000 babies within just 1 month of birth.”

Down syndrome was then listed as one of the “most common severe birth defects.” After receiving backlash, the WHO edited the Facebook post to remove Down syndrome from the list, and deleted the paragraph of information. However, it appears a separate post on Twitter also included Down syndrome as a birth defect.

WHO

WHO Screenshot

News host Rachel Campos-Duffy, a mother of nine children — including one with Down syndrome, replied to the WHO tweet with a tweet of her own saying, “[…]#WHO. Down syndrome is NOT a birth defect. It’s a chromosomal variation. My baby w/ Downs is as human & valuable as any of my other kids. These comments lead to discrimination & abortion. Celebrate, don’t eliminate differences.”

 

Likewise, Kurt Kondrich, an author, advocate, and father of Chloe who has Down syndrome, tweeted, “The World Health Organization recently posted that Down syndrome is a ‘severe birth defect’! My amazing daughter Chloe who has changed the world has a response!” The tweet included a photo of Chloe, who is the inspiration behind Pennsylvania’s “Chloe’s Law” ensuring that parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome receive resources and support. The photo states, “I am Chloe Emmanuelle Kondrich and I am NOT a ‘severe birth defect.’”

 

The Facebook page, Raising Josee Hope, also commented on the WHO’s classification of Down syndrome, stating in part, “The only way Down syndrome is prevented is through abortion, is this what they’re advocating for?! An apology to the community rather than an edited post would be appreciated. And you wonder why we are left with NO CHOICE but to tirelessly advocate?!! Imagine if this was your child being spoken about. It wrecks our day. It takes time away from our kids. It breaks our heart to advocate. We don’t want to be ‘strong warrior mums’ we just want to enjoy life with our kids knowing they’re safe. When the global peak body for health refers to your child as a birth defect that can be prevented what Hope do we have?”

People who have Down syndrome are human beings with intrinsic value, yet they are consistently targeted for abortion. The abortion rate for children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome in the United States is nearly 70%.

Parents are fighting back against pressure to abort their babies, but as was made evident by the WHO’s social media posts, there is much more work to be done.

Plan B, Current Controversies

Dr. Kahlenborn discusses current controversies regarding Plan B, including its’ overrated efficacy, its’ possible link to breast cancer and its’ controversial mechanism of action.

 

Abortion industry promotes ‘missed period pills’ so women won’t know if they were pregnant

  

In an attempt to normalize abortion by using deceptive euphemisms, the abortion industry is now referring to the use of mifepristone and/or misoprostol (the same drugs as are used in the abortion pill regimen) as “missed period pills” or “later period pills.” The drugs are being sold to women without a confirmation of pregnancy, and they are led to believe the drugs will merely “bring down a period,” allowing them to escape the knowledge of whether or not they killed their own preborn children.

This unapproved process also flouts important safety regulations put in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under a program called REMS, which requires prescribers of the abortion pill mifepristone to properly date a pregnancy. While abortion enthusiasts are calling their latest scheme “creative,” pro-life advocates accurately refer to it as “abortion in disguise.”

A COLLABORATION OF GROUPS WITH THE GOAL OF KEEPING WOMEN IN IGNORANCE

In an e-mail to supporters, pro-abortion organization Gynuity Health Projects (GHP) announced a collaboration on missed period pills through formation of the “National Working Group on Missed Period Pills,” which includes a number of abortion organizations, under the website PeriodPills.org.

“Period pills bring on your period when it is late, even by just a few days. If you are pregnant, these pills will end your very early pregnancy,” the website claims. “But you do not have to take a pregnancy test or confirm you are pregnant before using period pills. Yes! Period Pills are real… Sometimes this is referred to as menstrual regulation, or pushing a period, or bringing down a period.”

The site actually admits that the whole point of “missed period pills” is to remain in ignorance, noting (emphasis added), “If someone is pregnant, taking these medications will end their pregnancy. This can be referred to as an abortion. But since pregnancy is not verified before taking the pills, a person will never know if they were or weren’t starting a pregnancy when they took the pills. Late period pills will bring down a person’s menses even if they aren’t pregnant, and can provide reassurance and peace of mind if someone doesn’t want to be pregnant. A person does not need to take a pregnancy test or confirm a pregnancy to use missed period pills.”

The site adds, “Late period pills let us choose to get our periods or have chemical pregnancies when we don’t want a pregnancy to become established. Instead of waiting and worrying, we can take pills and bring on our periods.”

GYNUITY: IF PREGNANT, IT CAUSES ABORTION; IF NOT, WOMEN ‘PROBABLY DON’T NEED’ IT

Gynuity also wrote about its intention to partner with abortion chain Carafem to “study the acceptability and use of mifepristone plus misoprostol for menses induction in the US.”

A 2021 archived page from Carafem’s website shows how the abortion chain deceptively marketed so-called missed period pills as a new medication option. “If you don’t want to be pregnant, you may be eligible to use a new medication option as soon as 28 days from when your last period started… with no requirement to wait several weeks for treatment,” they wrote. A more current page at Carafem’s website states the abortion business is “conducting a study that uses Mifepristone and Misoprostol within as little as 28 days from your last period.”

Image: Carafem archived 2021 website Missed Period Pill uses the abortion pill regimen

Carafem archived 2021 website Missed Period Pill uses the abortion pill regimen

Melissa Grant, chief operations officer of Carafem, recently acknowledged to Ms. Magazine, “We actually were doing a Gynuity study in D.C. last year on missed period pills that temporarily paused during the pandemic….We let them know clearly, if you do this and you’re pregnant, it’s an abortion, and if you do this and you’re not pregnant, you’re taking medication that you probably don’t need…” (emphasis added).

Wendy Sheldon, a senior associate at Gynuity, suggested to Rewire News Group that this deception is “liberating” and carries “benefits” so women can “take control over their reproduction without being constrained by other people’s definitions of pregnancy, abortion, or other terms that may not reflect their beliefs or lived experiences….”

Sheldon added, “Missed period pills can also provide the psychological space for people to define what’s happening to their bodies on their own terms, consistent with their beliefs. For me, this is one of the most liberating and appealing aspects of this idea…”

UCSF Missed Period Pill Study (MPP)

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) calls its missed period pill study a “more creative method” to support abortion goals. UCSF’s study began recruiting in June of 2021 and will utilize just the second pill in the abortion pill regimen — misoprostol, originally approved as an ulcer drug under the brand name Cytotec. The drug’s label warns that misoprostol can cause uterine rupture and will not impact a dangerous ectopic pregnancy. It will induce heavy bleeding and cramping if a woman is pregnant, and cause contractions strong enough to kill and then expel the child. By using misoprostol alone without mifepristone to first block progesterone and deprive the preborn child of nutrients, the abortion industry knows women will be unable to reverse the effects of the drug.

“As the number of state laws restricting access to abortion increases across the country, more creative methods are needed to support individuals in achieving their reproductive goals. Misoprostol alone for people who suspect, but have not confirmed pregnancy, has the potential to fulfill this growing need,” UCSF’s Missed Period Pill study (MPPS) states.

“The goal of this research study is to test a traditional but underutilized framework of menstrual regulation for pregnancy loss, to ‘bring back’ a period when it is missed,” the study, whose principle investigator is Dr. Ushma Upadhyay, also states.

“The participant will not know the results of the first visit’s pregnancy test at any point. The clinic staff member administering the participant’s care will not know of the pregnancy test result while the participant is at the clinic,” the study, which will require one study visit and one telehealth visit, points out.

Missed Period Pills or Late Period Pill abortion study at UCSF (Image: PeriodPillStudy.org)

Missed Period Pills or Late Period Pill abortion study at UCSF (Image: PeriodPillStudy.org)

Eliminating guilt and interfering with informed consent

In September of 2020, Gynuity published findings from a study analyzing potential interest in the concept. “In the study… researchers surveyed women seeking pregnancy tests at nine reproductive health centers in two states. They asked women if they would be happy or unhappy about becoming pregnant and if, instead of a pregnancy test, they would be interested in a hypothetical service offering what they called ‘missed-period pills,’” wrote the New York Times (NYT) about the study published in the pro-abortion Journal Contraception.

“Doing so, many said, would allow them to avoid the burden of that knowledge and the pain of self-flagellation, providing them with a psychological benefit at a time of great stress,” NYT wrote.

“It would be easier on my emotional well-being to not know I was actually pregnant but to alleviate the issue which is my missed period,” one of the study participants stated.

“I wouldn’t feel I am a bad person,” another said.

Equal Rights Institute editor Andrew Kaake pointed out how the deceptive name interferes with informed consent, writing in part, “The use of a euphemistic name… does not change the pill into anything other than an abortion pill, and an attempt to use such marketing to fool women or induce them to fool themselves interferes with informed consent. More troubling, though, is the idea that it’s better for the woman if she thinks, by taking the “missed period pill,” she only maybe had an abortion.”

“Why is intentionally muddying the moral waters and getting women to act a certain way despite their beliefs a positive thing?” writer Petra asked at Pregnancy Help News. “In reality, it’s just a way for abortion advocates to try to further the idea that abortion is a morally good and normal choice to increase their sales; there is no real concern for these conflicted women. MPPs are a marketing scheme to directly influence ambivalent women or women who outright do not agree with abortion to go ahead and do something which may go against their beliefs,” she stated.

Women can report suspected adverse reactions or complications of any drug including the abortion pill to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Artificial Hormones Affect Female Athletic Performance and more

  • “A 2011 survey of 123 skiers and biathletes by FasterSkier found that 71 percent had used hormonal birth control. Of those, almost half believed that it had negatively impacted their performances via weight gain, reduced strength and endurance, mood swings, loss of competitive drive, and other factors. Two standout high school skiers told FasterSkier that after starting hormonal birth control just before going to college, their performances either stagnated or declined – that is until each decided to stop taking contraceptives.

Athletes face enormous pressure over whether to take hormonal contraceptives (HC).  There are many questions surrounding the decision to use HC. “Does it increase the risk of breast cancer? Lead to infertility? Cause increased mortality? While the answers to these questions appear to be “no,” the effects of added hormones on the human body still aren’t fully understood – and the impact on athletic performance has barely been examined”. HC use is common among elite athletes, and the continuation of HC is used to manipulate the menstrual cycle in sports competitions. Although HC use is common in elite athletes knowledge surrounding the menstrual cycle and oral contraceptives is low

HC not only affects performance in athletes but it affects every cell and system in their bodies.  A recent study found that Combined Oral Contraceptive use markedly elevated chronic low-grade inflammation in athletes, which could predispose to a higher inflammatory response to physical stress and elevate cardiovascular risk. Also, the use of oral, transdermal, and vaginal contraceptives impairs glucose tolerance. The use of the potent synthetic steroids has been associated with low bone mineral density and increased fracture risk in some studies.

Athletes who use the oral contraceptive pill may be exposed to long-term problems from low values of “unbound” testosterone.  Synthetic hormones decrease the levels of androgens by two mechanisms. First, the direct inhibition of androgen production in the ovaries. Second the lower levels of androgens stimulates an increase in the hepatic synthesis of sex-hormone binding globulin, the major binding protein for androgens and other steroids. The combination of these two mechanisms leads to low circulating levels of “unbound” or “free” testosterone potentially leading to continuing sexual, metabolic, and mental health consequences.

Instead of compromise their performance and wellbeing with the use of Hormonal Contraception, female athletes have a safe, natural, and smart alternative. Learning a fertility awareness method, athletes can  track the biomarkers of their fertility cycle and tailor their training and nutrition. The knowledge of the cyclical hormonal changes in their bodies can empower athletes to make wise decisions, avoid injury, and improve performance. Tracking the fertility cycle can help athletes to identify abnormalities caused by underlying medical conditions, nutrition deficiencies, and over training. Hormonal contraception can mask the underlying problem delaying appropriate medical intervention and adding more health issues. The challenge for athletes  is to work with their natural hormones not against them.

 

 

 

 

Report finds that forced sterilization is still legal in over 30 states

  |

Report finds that forced sterilization is still legal in over 30 states

 

A new report from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has revealed that instead of being a decades-old obsolete horror left to the past, forced sterilization is still legal in over 30 states.

According to the report, 31 states plus Washington, D.C., allow for people to be forcibly sterilized. Most often, sterilization is used against people with disabilities, especially those who are also people of color. Sometimes, parents or guardians are complicit, but not always. And the person being sterilized isn’t always told what has been done to them until they find out on their own later.

“Linda Kay Sparkman was a 15-year-old with an intellectual disability,” the report reads. “Linda’s mother asked a judge for permission to get Linda sterilized. The judge agreed that sterilization was a good idea. No one told Linda she was going to be sterilized. The doctors told her she was getting a different operation. Linda tried to have a baby a few years later. That is when she found out that she was sterilized.”

Another story featured is that of Ashley X. Horrifyingly, Ashley’s parents successfully sought her sterilization at the age of six, through hysterectomy. As Ashley’s parents also did not want her to grow breasts or get taller, doctors also performed an operation to ensure her breasts did not grow and put her on hormones so she would remain small, like a child. Stunningly, Ashley is not the only child to have suffered through this; other children have undergone the same treatment, which is now called the Ashley Treatment.

Not Dead Yet, a disability rights advocacy group, condemned the Ashley Treatment in a statement, pointing out that despite pushback from disability groups, the Ashley Treatment has largely been received positively. “We are saddened but not surprised by the fact that this was publicized and met with a great deal of public approval,” Diane Coleman, founder of Not Dead Yet, said at the time. “The public is willing to sanction the murders of disabled children by their parents, so it’s hardly surprising they would rush to the support of parents and their medical partners in a matter like this.”

Coleman further added, “Ethics Committees often say they strive for diversity in their membership, but they have historically excluded representation from the disability community about whom they are making life and death decisions.”

It isn’t just people with disabilities who have been forcibly sterilized. Prison inmates have suffered this inhumanity as well, as recently as 2021, in states like California and Tennessee. In California alone, over 1,000 female inmates were sterilized, most of them Black, and many of the women were not told they were being sterilized. Instead, prison officials told them they had other medical conditions. It was only later that the women learned what had been done to them. The doctors reportedly believed it was better to sterilize the inmates while in prison than for them to leave jail, have children, and possibly be on welfare.

“Forced sterilization laws are not an aberration – they are part of a larger, horrifying system that prevents disabled people from making basic decisions about their lives, their families, and their futures,” Ma’ayan Anafi, the author of the report, said in a statement. “These laws are part of a long history of state-sanctioned sterilizations and are rooted in false, paternalistic assumptions about disabled people. No judge, guardian, or politician should have the right to take away anyone’s fundamental right to decide whether to have children. It’s long overdue to fully transform this ruthless system.”

St Polycarp Prolife Hero

Calling St. Polycarp – Catholic Review

On Feb. 23, the Catholic Church remembers the life and martyrdom of St. Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle and evangelist St. John.

This is a nice story of St Polycarp intersection for a pro-life cause.

  • “When Marilyn Szewczyk was about to launch a network of pro-life pregnancy centers in Maryland, she turned to St. Polycarp for help. Reasoning that the obscure early Christian martyr didn’t have many people asking for his intercession, Szewczyk figured she’d have easy access to his ear. Lynn Anne Sukeena, one of Szewczyk’s daughters, told me that her late mom put St. Polycarp to the test before selecting him. When a pro-life lobbying group was looking for office space in Annapolis, Szewczyk prayed to St. Polycarp. Sure enough, a prime spot was located in the State House. That was enough for Szewczyk, who officially named him the patron saint of her outreach network, Pregnancy Center, Inc.” More than thirty years later, the network is thriving.
  •  St Polycarp is the patron of another pro-life organization,  The Polycarp Research Institute a non-profit organization (501 C3) dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of high-quality research designed to enhance the physical, psychological and spiritual condition of mankind.

It’s Time to put St. Polycarp on our list of intercessors!

 

Use Copper IUD during pregnancy

IUDs work against pregnancy in several ways. Some of these effects take place before fertilization, and others take place after the sperm and egg have  united to form a new human being.

Although IUDs are marketed as the most effective form of reversible contraception women who use IUD can become pregnant. Many of those pregnant women continue using the IUD because it is difficult to remove. There is a possibility of miscarriage after IUD removal.  

According to a recent article published in the Journal Growth Hormone and IGF research, the copper IUD may affect embryo development. 

The authors reported that the study focused on the measurement of the changes in human leucocyte antigen-G (HLA-G) and insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) levels in the decidua and villi to explore the effect of a copper IUD on embryonic development. The human leucocyte antigen-G (HLA-G) is a molecule found in trophoblast membranes, reflecting the immune tolerance of the mother to the embryo.  Insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) is a protein hormone similar to insulin. The protein is an important regulator of early embryonic development, particularly placental development.

A total of 54 samples of decidual and villus tissue (the maternal and fetal portion of the placenta) was collected from pregnant women with IUDs (27 samples) or without IUDs (27 samples). The  morphological characteristics and protein expression levels were evaluated. 

The authors found that Copper IUDs may reduce IGF-II expression in villus tissue, which could compromise the development of an embryo. They conclude, “Thus, use of an IUD during pregnancy may be risky.” Women need to be informed about the possibility of pregnancy when using IUDs and the negative effects on the development of the fetus.

Hormonal Birth Control and Vision Problems

In a recent article published at Birth Control Problems? The Eyes Have It – Hormones Matter the author Mike Gaskins, writes about hormonal birth control’s contribution to eye problems.

He highlighted a 2013 study including  3,500 women over the age of 40 and found that those who had used hormonal birth control for three years or longer more than doubled their risk of developing glaucoma.

The possible explanation for the increased risk of glaucoma in hormonal contraception users is the estrogen deficiency created by synthetic estrogen. The natural hormonal rise and fall in a specific pattern are suppressed by the constant levels of artificial estrogen, affecting the intraocular pressure. Also, estrogen deficiency causes premature aging of the optic nerve.

Another report in this article is related to changes in the retina. Women who took oral contraceptives for a year had a thinner retinal nerve fiber layer, ganglion cell layer, and choroid. The researchers wrote in their paper. “It is important to find out when these thickness alterations can be clinically significant or symptomatic and if these changes are reversible or not.”

The author also explored evidence of other eye problems in hormonal contraceptive users. A study from 1997 showed that women 35 years and younger who took oral contraceptives had an increased risk of Retinal Vascular Occlusion.

The article concludes that women who use hormonal birth control should have a comprehensive eye evaluation with routine imagen exams. How many health care providers are considering a patient’s ocular personal history before prescribing hormonal birth control for contraception or other reasons?

 

Cultivating Chastity: Advice for Young Catholics Living in a Sex-Obsessed Culture

Cultivating Chastity: Advice for Young Catholics Living in a Sex-Obsessed Culture| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

Kelly Marcum

“Kelly knows she isn’t going to get a guy if she sticks with that, right?”

Those were the words spoken by the boyfriend of one of my friends in college. He had just learned that I was one of those religious “oddities” who not only went to Mass, but also believed the Church’s teachings that sex was intended only for within the confines of marriage, and then with an openness to life.

Fortunately, I knew enough young couples who had also chosen to follow this apparently unthinkable path, so I was unconcerned by his incredulous proclamation. However, I was struck by the sincerity with which he declared it. There was no doubt in his mind, and clearly not in the minds of many of my girlfriends, though they halfheartedly assured me otherwise, that the Church was condemning me to a life alone by forcing this antiquated worldview upon me. The irony, of course, was that in the name of my freedom, they thought I should compromise my principles in order to snag myself a man who would not have wanted me had I stayed true to my faith. I was unconvinced by this logic, but my heart broke for them for believing it.

Like so much in our culture, sex has become entirely self-focused. No longer aimed toward the higher goods of bonding within marriage and bringing about new life, it has been reduced in importance, such that women — and men — are mocked for reserving it for after the wedding. But in a perverse twist, it has been simultaneously magnified in necessity, such that a dating relationship without it is nearly unheard of in most circles.

Kate Bryan, the author of Living the Feminist Dream and the founder of 1 Girl Revolution, was committed to the virtue of chastity in high school, but her view of it at the time was more one-dimensional. She saw it as a good thing, but, to her, it was a system built upon the notion of what not to do. Over time, this evolved as her understanding of the theology behind chastity further developed during her college and young professional years.

“I’ve learned that chastity is a perfection of love. It’s not just a list of dos and don’ts,” she told the Register.

Threaded throughout all of Church teachings is the truth that every man and woman is created in the image and likeness of God, and thus imbued with a dignity that is meant to be protected and valued, not degraded. Therefore, every element of the Catechism is designed not to be a ledger of rules to get us to heaven, but as a holistic and divinely revealed set of teachings grounded in the natural law and intended to uphold and defend the dignity of every man, woman, and child, born and unborn. Church teachings on chastity are no different. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines chastity as “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being” (2331-2334).

In her years working in both Washington, D.C., and Detroit, Bryan has seen how the desire for love often leads to lowered expectations in relationships, especially for the young women she knows. “[Women] want love so desperately, and we lower our expectations, and, honestly, we often put up with bad behavior. We have a responsibility to stand up and demand better.”

For a generation of young men and women, coming of age in the “hook-up culture,” the highest standard for sex in this view is that it be “consensual.” But it’s difficult to demand fidelity and love from a girl you just met or from the guy that refuses to commit to a relationship, and it’s often even impossible to know that is what you are owed if you live immersed in a world where sex is depicted as an act intended merely for pleasure, not as an unconditional gift of self, to say nothing of the creation of a child.

Yet despite the incessant cultural messaging that both trivializes sex and makes it the pinnacle of the human experience, Bryan notes that the message of chastity, as taught by the Church, will always resonate with young men and women seeking true relationship. “No matter who you are, everyone is looking for love. We’re made to love and be loved.”

Kathryn Bodenhammer, a leader in Love and Responsibility LA and co-star of the crowdfunded Catholic production Eucharistic Miracles, has witnessed firsthand this search for authentic connection.

“[Love and Responsibility] held an event near UCLA to attract more college students, and it was heartbreaking,” Bodenhammer recalled. “We got girls sharing in Q&A about their struggles with unhealthy relationships, and we want to help women to see their own value and worth and know they do not need to seek it out in a man and instead should find it in God.”

These discussions were a driving force behind Love and Responsibility, named after the great work by Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II). The mission is to spread the message of dignity and cherishing of the other that is enshrined within the Church’s teachings on sexuality and chastity. And it’s a message that men and women are responding to. Bodenhammer recalled one young man who was thrilled by the primacy of relationship and communication in chaste relationships. He shared that he loved having wonderful conversations with the women he went on dates with and how he enjoyed making them laugh. When asked if she could pick one takeaway for the men and women who participate in the group’s events, Bodenhammer responded: “All people are created with value, and we’re not meant to be used. There is so much utilitarianism in this culture, and we want to make sure both men and women know that they are meant to be cherished and valued on a deeper level in a relationship, where they are hopefully led closer to God. as well.”

For Tasha Tormey, a young woman living in Los Angeles, her faith and a strong community have been sources of strength in her commitment to chastity while dating. She encourages other young men and women on the same path. “Get as involved in Catholic community as soon as you can, and make friends with other Catholics and Christians who are striving to live chastely,” she advised.

Tormey also recognizes that far from being an optional guideline to follow, as too many young men and women raised in Catholicism have come to think, chastity is a prerequisite both for true love and for full communion with the Church.

“Because I am Catholic, I strive to accept all the Church teachings. I also know that God wants us to love, and only the chaste can love truly, without confusing lust or sentimentality with real love. It is definitely a hard teaching to accept, but if I were to live without chastity, I would not be able to receive the greatest gift there is: the Eucharist. When we have God present with us on earth, we must do all we can to be in a state of grace to receive him.”

In my own work with young women and high-school girls, the questions I am most frequently asked circle around how to enjoy dating and pursue good relationships while remaining confident in their principles (and these struggles are shared by young men, as well). They are bombarded on all sides by a culture that encourages “sex positivity” and tells them that any messages of chastity and sexual restraint they hear are from nefarious forces determined to hamper their freedom, not nurture their souls. The answer lies not just in explaining the Church’s teaching to them. Though that is a critical step, it is not sufficient. They must be taught not merely the “what” of the rules, but the why behind them. To quote St. Paul, that most bold author of epistles, “… the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:7). Young men and women must be taught not just what not to do, but also to whom they belong and how they are called to honor and defend the dignity of everyone they encounter.

FAITHFUL, FRUITFUL AND FREE

Faithful, Fruitful and Free (churchmilitant.com)

Transcript from Chruch Militant News Report

New evidence is demonstrating there’s a strong correlation between happiness and large families, and the link between both is religious faith. In tonight’s In-Depth Report, Church Militant’s Paul Murano examines the social science, which lends further proof of the Church’s divine wisdom.

A new survey from the National Opinion Research Center reveals two basic things: A happy population is one that flourishes with procreation, and Americans are now less happy than they’ve been in over 50 years.

Nastasia Grace, YouTube personality: “Something just pounds on my brain saying, ‘You’re not happy!'”

The data shows an epidemic of loneliness and depression — exacerbated by COVID lockdowns — has taken its toll. Only 19% of Americans say they’re very happy while 24% admit they’re not too happy.

Boiled down, the survey shows two primary causes: a lack of faith and a breakdown of the family.

Steve Hilton, host, The Next Revolution, Fox News: “And we see the disaster all around us — the kids without fathers, the broken homes, the impact on their lives.”

With regard to faith, psychologist, professor and author Dr. Lisa Miller found religious people are much less likely to suffer major depression and that religiosity actually thickens the cerebral cortex.

Sadly, a recent Pew Research poll shows almost a third of American adults have no religious affiliation. And a lack of faith is linked to a lack of children.

America’s annual birth rate fell six straight years, reaching its lowest point ever in 2020. It’s now half of what it was in the early 1960s — before the sexual revolution began with the birth control pill.

Kent Niebuhr, Catholic father of seven and former stay-at-home dad: “It makes sense that having more children would make you happier because it really pulls away the disillusions of pursuing happiness in material things.”

And fewer people are getting married. According to a 2020 report from the Institute for Family Studies or IFS, never-married adults increased over 100% since 1970. And it’s no surprise since the divorce rate hovered at around 50%.

It’s also no surprise that sins of lust are primary factors in divorce. A 2019 Florida State study found attitudes toward premarital sex are a major factor. This was confirmed in a 2019 IFS survey showing married couples who’ve had sexual relations only with their spouses were markedly happier than those who had other intimate partners before marriage. Further, couples using artificial contraception are much more likely to divorce.

The Church has always taught sexual intimacy belongs only in marriage and that large families are a blessing from God.

Niebuhr: “That’s where happiness lies, in love.”

These studies prove what has always been true: People who live contrary to Catholic doctrine cannot be happy.

The average fertility rate in America has been decreasing since the industrial revolution from seven children per family in 1800 to around four in 1960, to less than two in recent times. More technology doesn’t always mean more flourishing and happiness.

One group of Americans has the highest fertility in the world. It doubles every 20 years.

One group of Americans has the highest fertility in the world. It doubles every 20 years.

by Louis T. March

In the 1400s the printing press revolutionized Europe, enabling mass distribution of printed material fast. The Reformation roiled Europe in the 1500s, in no small measure due to Gutenberg’s invention. In the wake of Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli came a variety of sects, including the radical Anabaptists, who believed in adult baptism and strict separation of church and state. In 1693 the Anabaptists splintered into three sects, including the followers of one Jakob Ammann. They called themselves Amish.

About the Amish

Amish organize into districts governed by an Ordnung (set of rules) that governs personal attire, domestic life, and work. Today the Ordnung forbids use of electricity, automobiles, telephones and a range of modern labor-saving devices. The Ordnung must be strictly obeyed under penalty of shunning or even excommunication. Implementation of the Ordnung may vary in different communities. It is intended to promote the virtues of hard work, humility, rural life, and separation from the world. Their inspiration comes from James 1:27: “To keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (NIV).

Weary of persecution and the world around them, in the mid-1700s about 500 Amish arrived in the New World, settling mostly in Pennsylvania. In the 1800s about 1500 more came, settling in the Midwest. Most Amish are descended from about 200 families who crossed the Atlantic.

Population and fertility

“Over the last century the Amish population has doubled on average every 19.63 years,” according to the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Pennsylvania’s Elizabethtown College, which further states:

“The North American Amish population grew by an estimated 183,565 since 2000, increasing from approximately 177,910 in 2000 to 361,475 in 2021, an increase of 103.2 percent.”

In 1992 there were 125,000 Amish in the US. By 2020 there were 350,000, an almost 180 percent increase.  The US population increased approximately 29 percent during that period, thus the Amish population growth rate was six times that of the US (including immigration). That is exponential population growth, though it begins from a very low base.

Today there are 375,000 Amish in America.

Amish live in districts, each comprising roughly 30 families. When a district surpasses that, a new district is formed. A new district is founded every 3.5 weeks. Associated districts form settlements. From 2000 to 2021, the Amish gained 290 new settlements. Present in 31 US states, they have recently established districts in four Canadian provinces and single districts in Argentina and Bolivia.

At home the Amish speak a form of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Due to their rural customs, personal privacy (Amish do not keep photographs as they are believed to cultivate vanity) and lack of technology, surveys of the Amish are an inexact science. Several groups may be considered a variant of Amish, but with fertility research the accepted criteria for Amish is that they speak Pennsylvania Dutch and have no household phones. That group consistently averages close to seven births per female.

Were the Amish a separate country, they would be right up there with Niger (6.9) contending for the world’s highest fertility rate. Amish fertility was the basis for demographer Lyman Stone’s 2018 paper “How Long Until We’re All Amish?

I occasionally encounter Amish in my travels, and once visited a workshop where a father and his four sons made buggy wheels. They were back-ordered for months.

Reasons for population growth

Like other Christians, Amish see children as a gift from God.

Their lifestyle incentivizes having children. Without the efficiency and productivity of technology, children are essential to work the farm, do the chores and look after their parents in old age. (Amish do not participate in Social Security.) Simply put, they value familial cooperation through labour over efficiency and productivity. Requiring more labour (children) engenders cooperation and close familial bonds without the worldly distractions of university, cinema, social media, bars, etc. There is no social atomization among the Amish. They believe that labour-saving technology would breed idleness. Amish are exempt from schooling past the eighth grade by the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Wisconsin v. Jonas Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

Another growth factor is that Amish have the highest retention rate of any religion or denomination in America at almost 90 percent. In adolescence Amish youth are allowed to leave their communities virtually free of constraints in a rite of passage called Rumspringa (jumping or hopping about). Baptism comes after they return.

Conclusion

There is evidence of some very slight decline in Amish fertility, though similar declines have been previously observed. Provided the current Amish growth rate holds, in 215 years their population is projected to be larger than the current US population of 327 million. It would be interesting to stick around and see if that pans out.

Amish farms and businesses are usually quite profitable. They pay cash for farms. Amish have the lowest rates of depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia of any American demographic.

The Amish are not without critics. Some regard them as a cult. Like any population, they are not immune from occasional criminal or deviant behavior. Conformity is expected or demanded, depending on your point of view. Those who stray from the Ordnung are shunned (a traumatic ordeal) or even excommunicated. They keep to themselves and do not proselytize or encourage outsiders to join. They are pacifist and do not serve in the military. A small number leave Amish communities as adults.

After observing life among the Amish, Business Insider published an article headlined, “If you want to be happier, should you be a billionaire or be Amish?”

The Amish are obviously doing something right. Their faith and largely pre-modern lifestyle works for them.

What works for the rest of us?

Louis T. March

Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family… 

Family as Suicide Prevention

In a recent article published in the Institute of Family Studies, the author showed that marriage and especially parenthood reduce the suicide risk.  Jason Manning, Associate Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University, and author of Suicide: The Social Causes of Self-Destruction wrote: “For over a century, at least since the pioneering work of French sociologist Emile Durkheim, we have known that social bonds—or their absence—plays a crucial role in suicide.”

Some  highlights of the article:

  • In the US, the risk of suicide for separated or divorced people is near twice that for married

    people.’

  • A study of a birth cohort of 1.5 million Swedes found that parenthood lowered suicide risk for

    both men and women, and that having two children lowered the risk more.

  • While abusive or dysfunctional relationships are dangerous, the evidence shows that the

    bonds of marriage and parenthood generally reduce the risk of suicide.

Read the complete article HERE

 

Why there’s no ‘I’ in pregnancy

Pregnancy. An injury? Run-of-the-mill event? Special circumstance? Choice? A recent report in the National Post highlighted the indignation of Olympic athletes in learning that pregnancy is often categorized by the I-word — “injury” — in their contracts.

“It’s not an injury, it’s a decision that’s made,” Canadian field hockey player Kate Gillis said.

Fair enough. As a decidedly non-elite sports enthusiast, I’d still hate to see my various sports injuries made equal with gestating a new soul. Yet the article reveals a bigger problem we have with the basics of addressing pregnancy and childbearing in the policy.

Overlooked

We don’t have a category for it. We struggle with how to make special arrangements around it, and frankly, whether to do so at all. Pregnancy and childbearing are confusing propositions today.

This becomes clear in many different corners. An opposing view to pregnancy-as-injury is pregnancy-as-invisible. Whether it’s a dear friend who sang opera on stage two days after giving birth, or New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was back to work in weeks, not months, these Super Women lead the rest of us to believe pregnancy is easy peasy lemon squeezy. For some women, it is, of course. I wasn’t one of them. In the latter stages of pregnancy, I found it difficult to shuffle to the bus stop. This alone quickly ruled out the possibility of running my own household, let alone a country.

Working mums

If I were running a country (which clearly I’m not) I’d aim to tackle maternity benefits delivered via unemployment insurance, as if giving birth were a routine part of losing a job. Ironically, benefits delivered in this way also cement ideas about a return to work in the government’s chosen timeframe, not yours. Why is a year-long maternity leave standard? Because the government made it so.

Is there no middle ground? In an earlier era, women who got pregnant were immediately let go. Now we have “golden handcuffs” and we return to routine waged work quickly. Pumping breast milk in a closet is sometimes not possible, sometimes not desirable. There are reasons why some European countries offer three years’ leave.

Career first

It is harder and harder for adolescents to move into adulthood, including the formation of families of their own. The average age at first marriage is rising, now 31 for men, almost 30 for women. Difficulties getting married delay childbearing too, which means women by default, not necessarily a choice, cannot have as many children as they might like. When you have your first child at 43, the likelihood of having more is slim to none.

This hints at another problem we have with pregnancy and children, treating it as something that inhibits real life rather than contributes to it. So many young people are waiting to start a family until they have solidified other aspects of working life.

This makes it little surprise that Canada’s fertility rate fell in 2020 to an all-time low of 1.4. (Replacement fertility for a country is 2.1 births per woman.) Having fewer children normalizes never seeing children and not knowing what to do with pregnancy and childbirth. It’s a vicious cycle.

Furbabies vs human babies

I could go on and on about the problems — after all, I haven’t even mentioned feminismthe Pill or abortion yet. Yet for better or worse, it’s into this messy, confusing environment that we hear Pope Francis say having a pet is selfish. Except he didn’t quite say that at all.

Rather, he said that all too often we claim to not have room in our homes for orphans, whilst simultaneously having two dogs and two cats. It was a bit more of a lighthearted remark in a homily dedicated to highlighting that no child should grow up parentless.

The problem I have with the pontiff’s remarks is not that he is incorrect, but that there is virtually no audience for his words. The media response, replete with a newly created pet owners guild defensively arguing that having a pet is very meaningful indeed, may only prove this point.

For calls to defend orphans to fall on fertile ground, pardon the pun, we need to have a media that actually value marriage, family, and children in the context of an ongoing robust discussion of what it means to normalize marriage, family, kids, and their care.

And that, ultimately, is what I view as the real and, unfortunately, far bigger conundrum than how to treat Olympic female athletes who get pregnant. Until we gain a shared vocabulary for understanding mothers, fathers, marriage, and families, until children are so ubiquitous that finding workable solutions is unavoidable, we will continue to find tired administrators filing pregnancy under “I” for Injury, much to our dismay.

Choosing Adventure, Despite the Risks

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Pope Francis caused a great deal of consternation among population control activists when he recently called out the growing trend of replacing human babies with what are sometimes – somewhat nauseatingly – referred to as “fur babies” – i.e. pets.

“Today we see a form of selfishness,” said the Pope at a public audience in early January. “We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats … Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children.”

“[T]his denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity,” he added.

The remarks caused quite the media furor. In an op-ed published on CNN, Alistair Currie, the head of campaigns and communications at Population Matters, declared pompously that the Pope’s comments “are wholly wrong.”

According to Currie, choosing to have few or no children is always and everywhere the selfless choice. “[T]he choice to have a small family, or no human family at all, is one that helps everyone,” he wrote, “particularly children, whose future depends on a more sustainable planet.” He adds that “showing love for animals is surely something that enhances and demonstrates our humanity – rather than diminishing it.”

Let me see if I have this right: On the one hand, choosing to have children is an inhumane choice, particularly towards children (who will suffer if we beget them). But, on the other hand, choosing to have non-human pets is a humane choice that demonstrates our humanity.

Now, I don’t disagree that a rightly ordered love for animals can indeed enhance our humanity. However, the idea that loving animals enhances our humanity, while loving human children enough to bring them into existence is somehow inherently selfish and inhumane, betrays some remarkably muddy thinking.

It is particularly puzzling when you consider that animals, too, consume resources. There are hundreds of millions of dogs and cats globally. And as one article put it, “What cats and dogs eat annually generates the same amount of carbon emissions as a year’s worth of driving 13.6 million cars.” It seems to me that if we are as deadly serious about reducing our carbon footprint as Currie wishes us to be, we should not be raising animals that serve no practical purpose.

I’m not serious, of course. But if we are going to endorse such an extreme position as that every human child threatens the planet, then we ought to be consistent, and acknowledge the environmental harms of pet ownership as well.

The Risk of Childlessness

In his remarks during that audience, the Holy Father put in a plug for adoption. “How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them,” Pope Francis said. “Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption. But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”

What a wonderful way to think about “risk” in conjunction with parenthood!

As I wrote a few weeks ago, when thinking about welcoming children many young couples can only see the innumerable “risks”: of financial hardship, of lifestyle changes, missed vacations, sleepless nights, and a lifetime of worry about that child’s welfare.

One the one hand, this is understandable. There is something about the idea of co-creating a whole new human being that is so inconceivably mysterious and consequential that it causes the head to spin. A couple, by uniting together in a fleeting physical union, can bring into being an immortal human being: one with his or her own personality, desires, ambitions, talents; a whole new life that will impact the lives of countless people in potentially life-changing ways, beginning with the parents. Looked at this way, the risks do seem enormous.

However, we can also turn this whole idea on its head. If the risks of welcoming a child are too huge to take, then what about the risks of not welcoming a child?

Decision theorists often point out that every choice comes with an “opportunity cost.” That is, when you choose one thing, you necessarily forego everything entailed by the alternatives. There are no “riskless” decisions. To choose to avoid the “risk” of parenthood, is to assume the “risks” involved in sterility.

And what are the risks of sterility? Well, the non-existence of a potential child who could have been, and all that that entails: the non-existence of the experience of parenthood for the parents; the non-existence of a brother or sister, nephew, or niece; the non-existence of countless experiences and memories; the non-existence of a potential carpenter, engineer, artist, mother or father; the non-existence of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

And on and on. An inexhaustible list of potential losses.

The Unanticipated Rewards of Parenthood

This does not mean, of course, that there are not sometimes very good reasons to postpone welcoming a child. The Church has always encouraged “responsible parenthood.” But it does mean that we must be honest and clear-sighted in weighing the risks: if welcoming a new life into the world seems too risky to venture, that also implies that it might be too risky not to venture! We only live one life, and the choice not to welcome children means to forego one of the most meaningful of life’s experiences.

In my line of work, I often have the chance to speak with parents who, at some point, either aborted a child, or avoided welcoming children by contracepting. I also have the opportunity to speak with many parents who unexpectedly became pregnant at a time when they were trying to postpone pregnancy, but who faced the challenge and welcomed the child.

It is heartbreaking to hear the deep regret from those first parents, who later realized that they desperately wanted the child they aborted, or who realized they wanted children, but only when it was too late. On the other hand, it is deeply moving to hear the stories of parents who found themselves with an unplanned pregnancy, and yet who accepted the great adventure of new life.

Their stories are not always easy. Children can come at times of great hardship: in the midst of serious illness, or severe financial difficulties. And yet, in the end, there is the child: a whole other human being, to know and to love; a whole other person who brings a new life and light to the family, contributing a personality and gifts that no other person could. A child that, in time, learns to give back to his or her parents; to love them as they age; to give them grandchildren.

“Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents,” wrote the Second Vatican Council Fathers in Gaudium et spes. “Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Savior. Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day.” (no. 50)

Many couples who nearly aborted a child, later say that that child turned out to be the “greatest gift” of their lives, the gift that brought unanticipated joy, who in some cases got them to turn their lives around in dramatic ways.

Embrace the Adventure

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that an adventure is simply “an inconvenience rightly considered.”

There is no doubt that there are many “inconveniences” involved in parenthood. It is even true that a human being does consume resources, and that the number of humans on the planet can present an environmental challenge. However, this is not a challenge that is best avoided by deliberately getting rid of the humans that present the challenge. It is, rather, a challenge to be solved by the humans who are welcomed into the world by parents who have discerned, in a spirit of adventure, that welcoming a child is a risk worth taking.

As Pope St. Paul VI put it in Humanae vitae: “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.” (no. 1)

From the very beginning of Genesis, with God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply,” the Scriptures and Tradition have always cultivated a radical belief in the goodness of human life. To be parents is essentially to receive a gift that gives a new prospect of love, understood from the lens of reciprocal generosity and gift of self.

Rather than discouraging couples with the doom and gloom anti-natalism of eco-extremism, we should be encouraging in our young this spirit of “adventuresomeness,” encouraging them to be open to welcoming the unfathomable gift of new life, should God so bless them with so great a gift.

It is undeniable that marriage and family in contemporary society are under constant attack from a poor, limiting, and unsatisfying understanding of the truth about the sexual life and conjugal love. Only by “pricking” the consciences of persons and society – as Pope Francis did – can we hope to awaken the desire for what is good, true, and beautiful about marriage, family, and children.

I conclude with an appeal made by Pope Benedict XVI to European government leaders in 2007. The Holy Father’s challenging words remain valid today, not only for European leaders but also for all countries and government leaders, especially those that promote secular ideologies which assault the dignity of marriage and family life and the sanctity of human life. Let us pray Benedict’s petition to build a Culture of Life will not fall upon deaf ears and hardened hearts but, instead, be welcomed and realized.

[Do] not allow children to be considered as a form of illness … do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children … to favor conditions enabling young couples to raise children … All this will be pointless, unless we can succeed in creating once again in our countries a climate of joy and confidence in life, a climate in which children are not seen as a burden, but rather as a gift for all.

Study: California commits 20% of nation’s total chemical abortions

Study: California commits 20% of nation’s total chemical abortions (liveaction.org)

Study: California commits 20% of nation’s total chemical abortions

Feminist Takes Abortion Pill on Live Television, Brags About Killing Her Unborn Baby

National  |  Micaiah Bilger

Feminist Takes Abortion Pill on Live Television, Brags About Killing Her Unborn Baby – LifeNews.com

A Satanic cult leader and well-known abortion activist shocked Michigan news watchers over the weekend when she took an abortion pill on live TV during an interview with Fox 2 Detroit.

The pro-abortion blog Jezebel highlighted the disturbing act by Jex Blackmore, an abortion activist and former Satanic Temple leader.

Blackmore appeared on the station’s “Let It Rip” program to debate pro-life advocate Rebecca Kiessling on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forces states to legalize abortion up to viability.

In the midst of their debate, Blackmore held up a pill that she said was mifepristone, the first of two abortion drugs taken to abort unborn babies up to 10 weeks, and swallowed it on-air with a smile, according to the blog.

“I want to show you how easy it is, how safe it is, by taking it myself,” she told host Charlie Langton.

“You’re taking it? Are you-?” an obviously shocked Langton responded. “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

Blackmore replied: “I would say that this is going to end a pregnancy. … This will be my third abortion,” according to a segment of the interview that Kiessling posted on Facebook.

Why pro-life couples should opt for adoption over IVF

  |

In vitro fertilisation, computer artwork.

So many of us have the deep desire to have biological children of our own. It’s what drives hundreds of thousands of couples to use IVF to create their children. Still others, despite their wishes for a biological child, turn to adoption. Both options can be incredibly expensive, but from an ethical standpoint, the human toll of IVF makes adoption the morally sound option.

The death toll from IVF

The most glaringly obvious issue with IVF is the death toll that accompanies it. IVF is used by couples to create life, and those who turn to IVF may have good intentions. But its failure rate and the (often required) destruction of certain embryos means more human beings are destroyed in their embryonic life stage than are born.

Each round of IVF only carries a 20-30% chance of successful birth and couples can create up to 20 embryos to increase their odds — but most couples don’t want 20 children. As a result, while an estimated one million valuable and worthy people have been born thanks to IVF, 1.7 million have died, and another one million are said to be currently frozen in the United States while their parents decide if they still want them.

Some embryos simply don’t survive the IVF process on their own. Others are killed for having certain genetic traits such as cystic fibrosis or other genetic conditions the parents are trying to weed out by using IVF. Others meet death after being donated to scientific research. Others have died when the storage containers they were in malfunctioned. In some instances, when more than the desired number of embryos implant and grow, parents will abort the “extras” through selective abortion. These embryos and fetuses are human beings created to fulfill the desires of adults, and whose lives are lost, destroyed, or abandoned in the process.

The physical toll of IVF on children

The children who do survive the IVF process do not always escape its physical effects. Children created through IVF have increased risk of low birth weight, premature birth, hospital admission, perinatal mortality, cerebral palsy, and “significantly” increased risk of birth defects compared to children conceived naturally. They are also at risk for high blood pressure, and girls conceived through IVF sometimes have advanced bone age and hormonal imbalances during puberty.

Some studies have also shown an increased risk of childhood illnesses for all children born through IVF, including an elevated risk of cardiovascular problems, early-onset acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an increased risk of cancer in general, epigenetic disorders, cognitive impairment, and possible infertility of their own.

The emotional toll of IVF

The IVF process is often spoken about as emotionally and physically taxing for the adults involved, but the pain is considered to be worth it because they (sometimes) get to have their baby. But there are psychological and emotional issues for children created through IVF that few parents know about or consider. Claire, who was conceived through IVF, explained that she always knew her parents loved her and wanted her, but that learning about her conception caused her emotional pain. She said:

Somehow, somewhere, my parents developed the idea that they deserved to have a baby, and it didn’t matter how much it cost, how many times it took, or how many died in the process. They deserved a child. And with an attitude like that, by the time I was born they thought they deserved to have the perfect child… as Dad defined a perfect child. And since they deserved a child, I was their property to be controlled, not a person or a gift to be treasured. 

In addition to feeling like a consumer product, children conceived through IVF have an increased risk of ADHD, autism, and depression.

READ: Exposé reveals IVF corruption: ‘They were playing with people’s lives’

Adoption seeks to heal a wound

IVF is seeking to fulfill the wants and desires of adults who feel they deserve a baby and because of this, IVF creates wounds. It harms children both physically and emotionally, but it continues to happen because creating children has become a billion-dollar industry.

Adoption, on the other hand, attempts to heal wounds that were already created. Katy Faust, founder of Them Before Us and author of the book by the same name, explained, “Adoption should be sought only when all avenues to keep the child with their family of origin have been exhausted. The trauma a child faces when they’ve lost a relationship with their biological parents should not be minimized or ignored.” She states that adoption, when it is “properly understood” is “child-centric” not simply a way for adults to become parents. The prospective adoptive parents are not the true client in adoption as in IVF. The children are. This is why prospective adoptive parents go through a screening process and home visits and training. Parents using IVF don’t.

“For the child, adoption begins with great loss,” Faust continued. “Adoption is society’s attempt to mend that wound. However, while adoption is the best case scenario for a child in need, adoptive parents — no matter how loving — cannot fully compensate for the loss of the child’s first family.”

With this knowledge, adoption agencies and the foster care system evaluate which parents are best for which child — to find a family that can help heal the child’s wounds from the loss of her biological family. If a couple struggling with infertility is choosing between adoption and IVF, adoption is the more ethical path, but that does not mean it comes without challenges.

Ultimately, while a person’s desire to have a biological child is as understandable as a child’s right to know their biological parents, the IVF process causes far too much damage for the ends to justify the means. There are thousands of children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted. Life after adoption will not be miraculously perfect, but when adoptive parents acknowledge the trauma these children have suffered, the future can be bright — and no innocent lives had to be destroyed in the process.

Dangers to Life in Prenatal Testing

Dangers to Life in Prenatal Testing | Human Life International (hli.org)

 

Modern forms of non-invasive prenatal tests (called NIPT, for short) are growing in popularity, being used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women every year in the United States alone. These highly profitable tests, which promise parents a glimpse into the future of an unborn child by detecting some type of malformation or genetic abnormality, are aggressively marketed to pregnant women, and in many OB/GYN practices are now routine.

However, a devastating new investigation by The New York Times has found that many of those tests, which are completely unregulated by the FDA, are not remotely as accurate as the biomedical companies behind them would like parents to believe. Marketing materials put out by the testing companies suggest that the tests are “reliable” and “highly accurate.” In reality, however, some of the most common tests return false positives as much as 85-90% of the time, according to the Times’ analysis.

The tests that the Times looked at are blood tests, using blood drawn from the mother in the first trimester of pregnancy. Their allure is that they are significantly less invasive than other forms of testing, such as amniocentesis, which requires drawing a sample of amniotic fluid, and which carries a risk of miscarriage.

One marketing brochure from a testing company promises that the tests can provide “peace of mind” for the parents. However, as the Times notes, parents who receive a positive result often find anything but peace of mind:

In interviews, 14 patients who got false positives said the experience was agonizing. They recalled frantically researching conditions they’d never heard of, followed by sleepless nights and days hiding their bulging bellies from friends. Eight said they never received any information about the possibility of a false positive, and five recalled that their doctor treated the test results as definitive.

Unfortunately, much of this mental suffering is not precipitated simply by the knowledge that their child may be suffering from a serious malformation or genetic disorder. Much of it is due to the feeling of pressure that the parents must do something about it, i.e., they must quickly make a decision whether or not they will abort their child.

In theory, women whose unborn children return a positive result from one of the blood tests are supposed to go on to get more reliable – but still far from perfect – tests, such as those done through amniocentesis: i.e., the removal of a sample of the amniotic fluid. However, one 2014 study found that over 6% of women simply aborted their children without pursuing follow-up testing. No doubt, some of those children were healthy.

This, in turn, leads to a further trauma for the parents – that of discovering that they aborted a healthy child. One Irish couple was described, after aborting their child who was wrongly diagnosed with Trisomy 18, as “utterly, utterly mentally and physically devastated.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, reacted to the Times’ investigation, noting in remarks to the Catholic News Agency that children diagnosed with health problems are “disproportionately targeted for abortion.”

“Parents who receive such a prognosis while their baby is in utero should be given the medical and other supports necessary to allow them to cherish the gift of life, but most often they are not supported in this way,” Mancini lamented. “That prenatal tests are consistently erroneous adds an even deeper level of tragedy to the wrongful pressure on parents to abort. In the end, every life is a gift and deserves protection — regardless of disability.”

Catholic Teaching on Prenatal Testing

Catholic teaching does not necessarily oppose the practice of prenatal testing, acknowledging that it does have its valid uses and applications. However, the temptation to misuse prenatal testing is a serious one, which requires that the decision to carry out such testing be made very carefully and within a limited set of circumstances.

This concern about the potential misuse and abuse of prenatal testing was raised by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), in its 1987 document Donum vitae, which urged significant caution. The document noted that prenatal diagnosis can make it possible “to anticipate earlier and more effectively, certain therapeutic, medical or surgical procedures.” In such a case prenatal diagnosis “is permissible,” albeit only “if the methods employed safeguard the life and integrity of the embryo and the mother, without subjecting them to disproportionate risks.” (DV, I, 2)

Donum vitae adds that such testing “is gravely opposed to the moral law when it is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion depending upon the results.”

Thus, a woman would be committing a gravely illicit act if she were to request such a diagnosis with the deliberate intention of having an abortion should the results confirm the existence of a malformation or abnormality. The spouse or relatives or anyone else would similarly be acting in a manner contrary to the moral law if they were to counsel or impose such a diagnostic procedure on the expectant mother with the same intention of possibly proceeding to an abortion. So too the specialist would be guilty of illicit collaboration if, in conducting the diagnosis and in communicating its results, he were deliberately to contribute to establishing or favouring a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion. (DV, I, 2)

In its Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reiterates the teaching of Donum vitae, saying:

Prenatal diagnosis is permitted when the procedure does not threaten the life or physical integrity of the unborn child or the mother and does not subject them to disproportionate risks; when the diagnosis can provide information to guide preventative care for the mother or pre- or postnatal care for the child; and when the parents, or at least the mother, give free and informed consent. Prenatal diagnosis is not permitted when undertaken with the intention of aborting an unborn child with a serious defect. (2018, no. 50)

The New Eugenics

As Donum vitae and the Ethical and Religious Directives suggest, prenatal testing is not inherently problematic. In a truly tolerant and humane society, such testing could be used to develop or administer treatments to those children that are diagnosed with medical problems, or to help prepare the parents to face the challenges of caring for a child with a disability.

Therefore, a “diagnosis which shows the existence of a malformation or a hereditary illness must not be the equivalent of a death-sentence.” (Donum vitae, I, 2) However, this is not what many parents experience who receive a serious prenatal diagnosis. Instead, they are often told that their child’s disabilities are “incompatible with life” or that the child has a “fatal anomaly.” In many cases, the label “incompatible with life” reflects a judgment of quality of life, not an actual medical diagnosis, and children whose diagnoses are labeled “incompatible with life” are also at risk for being denied basic life-saving treatment.

Unfortunately, in our anti-life society astonishing advances of medical science are being used not to protect, but to attack human life.

Moreover, the financial and legal incentives in our highly litigious culture actually favor the aggressive identification of prenatal abnormalities, and the proactive presentation of abortion as a possible reaction to a positive test. If testing companies fail to detect a disorder, or if an OB/GYN fails to present abortion as a “solution,” there is always the risk of a so-called “wrongful birth” lawsuit. In some cases, doctors have had to pay huge sums in damages, because they did not give a woman the option to abort a child that she later realized she would have aborted.

As I have often warned, the rise of routine prenatal screening for health problems and genetic disorders has ushered in a new age of eugenics – a eugenic movement hidden behind a soothing veneer of lab coats and sterile clinics. In some cases, prenatal testing has given rise to what can only be called a “genocide.”

I do not use that term lightly. A genocide is defined as the attempted destruction of a particular group of people. What else are we to call the systematic elimination of as many as 90% of children diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome? In some Western countries, such as Iceland, children with Down Syndrome have all but disappeared.

However, our modern technocratic eugenicists do not want to stop at Down Syndrome. They hope to eliminate all genetic disease, not by eliminating the disease itself, but rather unborn children diagnosed with that disease. And their primary tool for accomplishing this is widespread prenatal testing.

Offering Hope

Although I am grateful that The New York Times has shed the light of truth on the shoddy prenatal testing industry, I also acknowledge that prenatal testing likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The technology exists, and though it is currently wildly inaccurate, it will likely be improved over time.

As a movement, we must do everything in our power to shift the conversation on prenatal testing, ensuring that every prenatal diagnosis is received within a culture that champions the right to life of every child, including those with disabilities.

More specifically, we in the pro-life movement must find ways to give hope to those parents who receive difficult news. One pro-life organization already doing just that is Be Not Afraid, which calls themselves a non-profit “supporting parents carrying to term following a prenatal diagnosis.”

“We believe that every baby is a gift,” they state on their website, “and we support parents not only in advocating for basic care, but also in obtaining the treatment they deem appropriate for their child after birth no matter the diagnosis.”

If you aren’t familiar with Be Not Afraid, go check out their work. Their website contains a wealth of information about prenatal testing, and about the many genetic disorders that children may suffer in the womb. Sadly, many parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis are left to navigate the aftermath without any support – indeed, often while being pressured by their doctors to do the “right thing” and abort the child.

The existence of Be Not Afraid is further evidence of the remarkable ingenuity of this great “movement for life,” as Pope St. John Paul II called the pro-life movement, with so many brilliant pro-life minds responding to so many different forms of attack on human life by offering their unique gifts.

Let us work and pray that one day we may live in a culture in which the only response to a prenatal diagnosis is renewed resolve to do everything possible to assist and accompany parents in the care of their child, welcoming him or her joyfully and with hope, no matter how short or physically limited his or her life might be.

Can birth control use affect future lactation?

Can birth control use affect future lactation? – Natural Womanhood

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breastfeed, motherhood, Mothers day, family love. mom breastfeeding her little son. breast feeding, lactation, maternity and healthy lifestyle

Type in the phrase “milk supply” on Pinterest or Google, and you’re likely to find oodles of recipes, baked goods, herbs, and over-the-counter compounds that claim to “boost milk supply.” If I’m being frank, in my work as a Lactation Consultant, most of my clients are struggling with milk supply because of ineffective or inefficient milk removal. Prioritizing sufficient milk removal is the best way to “boost milk supply.”

But occasionally, I see a mom struggling with low milk supply because of IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue). This means that even with efficient suckling or pumping, they will not be able to make a full supply and will need to supplement with formula or donor milk. Contrary to what people often think, a diagnosis of IGT does not mean that a mom can’t breastfeed, but it does mean breastfeeding might look a little different than anticipated.

IGT is not due to “small breasts.” Size is not indicative of the quantity of glands. IGT breasts can be big, small, medium, round, flat, high or low⁠—the only thing they all have in common is that the glandular tissue is simply not sufficient to make a full milk supply.1

The biggest red flags for potential IGT are widely spaced breasts, and particularly those that don’t grow during pregnancy. The exact root cause of IGT is still being studied, but some of the coinciding factors are a pre-pregnant body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, BMI greater than 26 or 30 during puberty, hormonal disorders (such as insulin resistance, diabetes, or hyperandrogenism), and use of hormonal birth control during puberty.2

Did you catch that last one? If you, your daughter, or a loved one was put on the pill as a teenager, there is an increased likelihood that you will experience impaired lactation. Did the doctor explain that to you? No? Didn’t think so.

How breast tissue matures

Breast maturation begins in the womb. “As early as 4 to 6 weeks of gestation, mammary-specific progenitor cells may be seen.”1 Around day 35 of gestation, proliferation of paired areas of epithelial cells in the epidermis of the thoracic region occurs.”3 Up until age 2, breast tissue goes through a process of “epithelial differentiation”—in other words, when cells prepare for lactation. This is also why endocrine disruptors should especially be avoided during pregnancy. Exposure to toxins like dioxin in utero can predispose a woman to have insufficient breast growth. Breast tissue then remains dormant until puberty.4 

Alveoli—these are the small sacs that fill with milk—are laid during each menstrual cycle, through the exposure of cyclical estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is responsible for elongation of milk ducts (the branches that hold the alveoli) while progesterone works on ductal side branching. As ductal elongation continues, the rest of the breast tissue fills in with adipose tissue, blood vessels, immune cells, and fibroblasts. After puberty, breast tissue remains relatively stable until the final stage of maturation during pregnancy.3

That’s right⁠—breasts are not considered fully developed until they’ve gone through a full pregnancy. During this time of intense estrogen and progesterone exposure, as well as human placental lactogen, the ductal system expands and branches out into the adipose tissue for its final stage of growth in preparation for lactation.3

So what does the pill have to do with it?

Hormonal birth control and IGT are correlated for two reasons. The first is that hormonal birth control is often given to teens to “cure” period problems. These period problems likely stem from hormonal disorders that affect breast tissue maturation and, therefore, future lactation. These hormonal conditions include, but are not limited to: PCOSluteal phase defectsthyroid issues, and insulin resistance.

Restorative care⁠—not suppression of symptoms⁠—should be prioritized for teen’s reproductive and general health. Restorative care will protect not only her future fertility and lactation but also her future bone, heart, and immune health.

The second reason is that a teen on hormonal birth control doesn’t have monthly, cyclical exposure to their own hormones that are necessary for proper ductal growth. The artificial hormones in birth control do not have the same effect as endogenous ones.

A 2021 research study found that “[different] progestins have distinct biological activities in the human breast epithelium depending on their androgenic properties.” They also found that “progestins routinely included in contraceptives have properties that overlap with testosterone, androgenic progestins, which induce expression of important mediators of progesterone receptor signaling and consistently elicit proliferation of human breast epithelial cells.”5

This means the hormones in modern contraceptives cause breast tissue growth⁠—but not in the same way that endogenous hormones would.

For many, increased breast size is a common side effect of hormonal contraception. It’s been touted that since the pill (and any of its formulations) “trick the body into thinking it’s pregnant,” the breast growth women experience while taking hormonal contraceptives is akin to breast growth in early pregnancy. But we now know differently.

Exposure to androgenic progestins causes hyperproliferation with cellular changes. Breast tissue growth during pregnancy is biologically normal, while growth during hormonal contraceptive use is not normal. This is also probably why full-term pregnancy (particularly during a woman’s twenties) has a protective factor against breast cancer while hormonal contraceptive use does the opposite.6

It’s important to note that just because you were on hormonal contraception as a teen doesn’t automatically mean you will struggle with IGT. Conversely, some women struggling with IGT have never used a hormonal contraceptive. Rather, hormonal contraceptive use during teenage years just seems to be one of the pieces in unlocking the IGT puzzle. And it’s certainly one more reason to steer clear of hormonal birth control for the teens in your life.

What if I think I have IGT?

If you are having lactation problems, you should schedule a full consultation with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, who can confirm the source of potential low milk supply, rule out baby-stemmed issues, and work toward a care plan that will suit both the mom and baby. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater⁠—breastfeeding in some capacity is still possible.

If you are expecting and hoping to breastfeed, but are worried you could end up with IGT, you can have your breast tissue examined by your health practitioner or a lactation consultant. But, this is likely premature. You don’t really know how lactation will unfold until it does. That’s why it’s so important to have lactation support lined up for when you need it.

In conclusion, the association between hormonal birth control use in the adolescent years and IGT, is one worthy of your consideration. Teenagers may not be thinking about breastfeeding, but one day down the line, they may⁠—and we want to give them every chance to succeed when that time comes.

Sources

  1. Hypoplasia/Insufficient Glandular Tissue
  2. Signs and risk factors of insufficient glandular tissue
  3. Development of the human breast
  4. Environmental exposures and mammary gland development: state of the science, public health implications, and research recommendations
  5. Contraceptive progestins with androgenic properties stimulate breast epithelial cell proliferation
  6. Pregnancy duration and breast cancer risk
  7. Contemporary Hormonal Contraception and the Risk of Breast Cancer

Additional Reading

Concerned about postpartum mental health and milk supply? Think twice about your birth control choice (especially LARCs)

The Holy Innocents and the Church’s pro-life witness

The Holy Innocents and the Church’s pro-life witness – Catholic World Report

The Church, “expert in humanity” (as Pope Paul VI put it), knows that the mystery of Christmas (like that of Easter) is so great that it cannot be adequately plumbed – let alone celebrated – in a single day. And so, taking a page out of our Jewish liturgical heritage, the Church gives us an octave observance – eight full days to consider the central doctrine of the Incarnation, enabling us to reflect on it from a variety of perspectives, not unlike holding a diamond up to the sun in an attempt to appreciate its beauty from many different angles.

Oddly, it might seem, however, throughout the Christmas Octave, we encounter a number of saints’ feasts. Don’t these commemorations serve as distractions from the central mystery of the Octave on which we are meant to focus our attention? Not at all – because, as St. Paul teaches us, “God is glorious in His saints” (2 Thess 1:10). Indeed, we can say that the very first fruits of the Incarnation are saints, the comites Christi (the companions of Christ), and in this week, the majority of them are martyrs – privileged “witnesses” to Christ: Stephen, the so-called “proto-martyr” (Dec. 27); Thomas à Becket, the medieval defender of the freedom of the Church (Dec. 29); and today, the Holy Innocents, really the first to shed their blood for Christ.

We are introduced to the “Holy Innocents” by St. Matthew (2:16-18) after he has told us of the visit of the Magi, whom Herod wanted to use as “reconnaissance” men to determine the identity of this “new-born King of the Jews.” Not obtaining the information he desired, Herod resorts to mass murder to ensure his competition is dead, ordering the execution of all male babies under the age of two in Bethlehem.

As children in our Bible history books in school and through Cecil B. DeMille-like productions, we were led to believe that hundreds or even thousands of baby boys were the victims of Herod’s treachery. Such poignant and dramatic scenes would certainly leave an impression on impressionable children. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), the real number was probably much smaller, maybe no more than a dozen since Bethlehem was a tiny, backwater town with a tiny population as Matthew himself suggests by citing the Prophet Micah’s description of the “little town of Bethlehem,” as we sing in the carol.

No, the horror of Herod’s deed resides not in the number of infants killed but in the fact that even one would be killed. The historicity of the event gains considerable credibility since we know that the crazed and paranoid king even killed his own sons, so terrified was he of a usurper.

The Collect for the day’s liturgy notes that these little ones confessed the true faith, “not by speaking but by dying.” Indeed, the very word “infant” in Latin means one who cannot yet speak! The prayer goes on to ask the Lord for the great grace “that the faith in you which we confess with our lips we may also speak through the manner of our life.” Talking the talk must be matched by walking the walk. How can this feast help us do that?

Today’s Office of Readings treats us to a reflection of Quodvultdeus, a fifth-century bishop of Carthage in North Africa and a spiritual son of the great Augustine. His name means “what God wants.” The North Africans had a knack for names. Another bishop was called “Deogratias” (Thanks be to God), and Augustine named his illegitimate son “Adeodatus” (Given by God) – a reminder that all human life is sacred, even when conceived under less than optimal circumstances. These North African theologians stand as testimonies to the vitality of the Church in that region in the early centuries but a reality that was almost totally eradicated by the Muslim invasions of the seventh century, which brought death to many and, sadly, apostasy from not a few. Another reminder and warning: While the Church Universal has divine assurance of remaining until the end of time, particular churches (dioceses) do not.

But back to the contribution of Quodvultdeus. Using the literary device known as “apostrophe,” the author addresses a question to the absent Herod:

Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.

Of course, for decades now, the Church in the United States has seen in the Holy Innocents the forerunners of the millions of babies slaughtered through legalized abortion in this country since 1973. As we have protested against this monstrosity and blight on our national character, have we not all witnessed the fear and rage of those ensnared in the culture of death? But why such rage? The vast majority of pro-lifers offer a kindly protest. The rage is born of insecurity, no doubt, because – deep-down – everyone knows the truth of what is happening in the abortion clinics and everyone knows – deep-down – that Our Lord was right in asserting that “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Dr. Bernard Nathanson came to the right conclusion, after years of aborting thousands of children, bringing him to produce the very appropriately-titled film, The Silent Scream.

The Church in our country – especially the hierarchy – have made numerous mistakes in the post-Vatican II era, however, the one area in which the Church shines is in her unrelenting pro-life witness and action. People forget that ours was a lone voice in the immediate wake of Roe v. Wade. In fact, the pro-abortionists used our solitary witness to press the anti-Catholic button, hoping to make the issue appear as a uniquely Catholic issue, as documented by Dr. Nathanson. While we rejoice in Evangelicals getting onboard with us, truth compels us to note that they were late arrivals.

This counter-cultural stance has been powerfully aided by our Catholic school system, which has provided strength and youthfulness to the pro-life movement. A few days after the 2010 March for Life in Washington, D. C., a journalist in favor of “abortion rights” wrote an article in the Washington Post (also strongly pro-abortion) noting that he was “expecting to write about [the March’s] irrelevance,” however, he indicated: “I was especially struck by the large number of young people among the tens of thousands at the march.” He highlighted the fact that the vast majority came from Catholic schools who “were taught from an early age to oppose abortion.” The piece ended up being remarkably fair and even positive.

The Shrine and Parish of the Holy Innocents (where I have happily provided assistance for nearly a quarter of a century) in Midtown Manhattan is home to the Shrine of the Unborn. Quodvultdeus reproached Herod:

You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.

This shrine allows parents to mourn the loss of their unborn children (whether through abortion or miscarriage), entering the names of their children into a Book of Life.

Europeans are stunned by the vitality of the pro-life movement in America; most of them have given up on the cause a long time ago. Statistics tell us that abortion is still a lively and hotly contested dimension of American politics, as was on clear display in the shameful confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Most interesting of all is that young people, perhaps realizing that they themselves could have been aborted or impressed by what science tells us about life in the womb, are among the most pro-life of all.

The innocent unborn, then, have not died in vain. Quodvultdeus ends his homily thus:

To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.

All you Holy Innocents, pray that the witness of our lives will always match the words of lips.

(Editor’s note: This essay was first posted at CWR on December 28, 2018.)

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Signs Pro-Life Bill Saving Babies From Abortions

 

Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill protecting abortion survivors. Ohio Bill 157 will (1) require medical professionals to provide life-sustaining care to children who survive a botched abortion, and (2) prohibit medical professionals who receive taxpayer-funded salaries from working for or contracting with abortion facilities. This bill will cut tax dollars from funding abortions and potentially close down two abortion facilities in Ohio.

A Warning About Declining Birth Rates

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

A Warning About Declining Birth Rates | Human Life International (hli.org)

Time Magazine has just named Tesla CEO Elon Musk as their “Man of the Year.” The Time feature on Musk, the richest man in the world, naturally focuses on Musk’s extraordinary career as the founder and CEO of world-changing corporations like Paypal, Neuralink, SpaceX, and, of course, Tesla.

However, Musk has been in the news recently for another reason: warning the world of the danger posed by collapsing global birth rates. “I can’t emphasize this enough: There are not enough people,” Musk stated during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit a couple of weeks ago. “One of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birth rate.”

To say that this is an unusual message coming from a billionaire is an understatement. Since the late 1960s, most of the world’s wealthy elite have more or less bought into the population control ideology, convinced by the doomsday theorizing of the likes of Paul Ehrlich, author of the best-seller The Population Bomb.

Fellow billionaire Bill Gates and his now-ex-wife Melinda Gates, for instance, have committed an enormous amount of their wealth to the cause of reducing the global population. Gates’ recent $1.7 million donation to a research team working on male contraception is the merest tip of the iceberg. In 2017, the Gates Foundation announced that they were giving over $375 million in support of “family planning” over the space of four years, which was only the latest installment of many financial gifts aimed at reducing the population.

Musk, however, is known for an independent streak, with many of his views defying easy categorization. This is not the first time that he has raised the alarm about the detrimental long-term effects of collapsing population numbers. Earlier this year he tweeted, “Population collapse is potentially the greatest risk to the future of civilization,” linking to a Wall Street Journal article on falling U.S. birth rates.

In fact, he has repeatedly addressed the issue since at least 2017. In some 2019 remarks, he noted that “most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually, this is an outdated view.”

People are Valuable

Musk is right. Although he may be the most high-profile person raising the alarm about depopulation, more and more political figures and economists are starting to wake up to the reality that a world without babies poses enormous challenges and risks.

A study published last year in The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, predicted a “jaw-dropping” crash in global fertility by 2100. As the BBC reported, “the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.”

“That’s a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” says researcher Prof. Christopher Murray. “I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognise how big a thing this is; it’s extraordinary, we’ll have to reorganise societies.”

Whereas the overpopulation doomsayers view people as a liability, what Musk recognizes is that even from a purely practical perspective people are also (and predominantly) an asset. That is, people are not merely biological beings that consume resources. They are also intelligent beings who use their ingenuity and creativity to produce good things, and to change the world for the better.

This is not to say that it is completely unreasonable to be concerned about the pragmatic challenges posed by rapid population growth. In Evangelium Vitaeeven Pope St. John Paul II acknowledged that some poorer countries “generally have a high rate of population growth, difficult to sustain in the context of low economic and social development, and especially where there is extreme underdevelopment.” However, in the face of these challenges, the Holy Father noted, creative politicians must work hard to implement “programmes of cultural development and of fair production and distribution of resources” instead of “anti-birth policies.” (no. 16)

Indeed, despite the consistent fear-mongering that has accompanied population growth ever since Thomas Malthus published his “Essay on the Principle of Population” in 1798, a growing population has not ushered in the apocalyptic disease and starvation that Malthus predicted. Instead, the past few centuries have seen unprecedented advances in human health and well-being, with the widespread eradication of childhood disease, enormous increases in longevity, and reductions in global hunger that have defied the predictions of even the sunniest optimists.

Even someone like Musk can see that human beings are something truly special, and that any temptation to view humans as resource-consuming “parasites” – one thinks of Agent Smith’s rant in the film The Matrix – is based upon a catastrophic misunderstanding not only of the intrinsic dignity of every human being, but also of the practical facts of how humans consume resources: not with the uncontrolled rapacity of a horde of locusts, but with intelligence and foresight.

A Catholic View of Population Issues

If even a non-Christian like Musk can see that the overpopulation ideology is catastrophically mistaken, we must go deeper still. Within the Christian worldview, not only are individual human persons potential practical assets, but they are also something much, much greater: beings made in the image and likeness of God.

As the Catechism teaches, “[Man] alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life… This is the fundamental reason for his dignity… Being in the image of God, the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone.” (paragraphs 356-357)

Rooted in a rich understanding of the inexpressible dignity of every individual human person, the Catholic Church has repeatedly warned against a simplistic approach to addressing complex problems that assumes that eliminating the human beings who suffer from those problems is the answer. In even the best-case scenario, this view inevitably leads to a cynical paternalism that robs developing nations of their freedom, and in the worst case, to horrific human rights abuses, such as the forced abortion and sterilization policies we have seen in places like China and India.

‘‘We must renounce the sophist view which holds that ‘to be many is to condemn ourselves to be poor,’” Pope St. John Paul II said in remarks at the opening of the World Food Summit in 1996. ‘‘It would be illusory to believe that an arbitrary stabilization of the world population, or even its reduction, could solve the problem of hunger directly.”

In Evangelium Vitaethe saintly pope compared globalist leaders who push population control on developing nations to the Pharaoh who ordered the first-born sons of the enslaved Israelites to be killed at birth. He wrote:

Today not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way. They too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person’s inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive programme of birth control. Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy. (no. 16)

The Holy Father added that any effort to address population questions must “take into account and respect the primary and inalienable responsibility of married couples and families.” Certainly, political leaders can never “employ methods which fail to respect the person and fundamental human rights, beginning with the right to life of every innocent human being.” (no. 91)

“It is therefore morally unacceptable to encourage, let alone impose, the use of methods such as contraception, sterilization and abortion in order to regulate births,” he added. (no. 91)

old man and child, baby, boy, grandfather

Musk is on the Right Track

It goes without saying that Musk’s views are no approximation of the richness of the Catholic view. At the end of the day, Musk is only looking at the problem from a purely practical point of view, drawing our attention to the fact that falling birth rates portend a rapidly diminishing work force, an aging population, reduced economic output, reduced tax revenue, huge demographic shifts, etc.

However, he is on the right track. In acknowledging that humans are a resource more than a liability, he is at least partway towards a deeper understanding of the human person than the likes of Bill Gates, who has dedicated his life to ensuring that there are no more humans than he deems ideal.

“Be fruitful and multiply,” God told Adam and Eve in Genesis. This comes immediately after the passage which reads: “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:28; 26-27)

Every human born is not just another mouth to feed but is an image of God Himself, a spark of the divine on earth, endowed with rationality, and a spiritual soul capable of intimate union with God Himself. At an earthier level, every human being is another potential mother, father, daughter, son, friend, another employee, taxpayer, inventor, and creator. Every human life is a life of inexpressible richness: of triumphs, sorrows, joys, accomplishments. Every human born has the ability to give something to the world that no other person can give.

Here, I am reminded of Pope Benedict XVI’s words in Caritas in Veritate:

When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual. (no. 28)

And so, rather than reacting to human life with fear, as the population controlling elite have done for so long, we ought, as a civilization, to rejoice in every new life, and to reject the technocratic temptation that says we can build a better world by violently yoking nature to our narrow purposes. For, as Musk has rightly warned, we may learn all too soon that there are unpleasant consequences to our short-sighted hubris.

Documentary “The Business of Birth Control”

This fall the film Business of Birth Control was released at the Doc NYC fest and now is available for streaming nationwide.  Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake, authors of the film, also produced The Business of Being Born

 The film does a critical review of the effects of birth control.  “In the 1960’s the pill was revolutionary, giving women the ability to control their fertility and advancing their equality in the workplace and in society. But when the pill came onto the market, women were not fully informed of the side effects and risks. Sixty years later, any conversation around the drawbacks of hormonal birth control remains politicized and suppressed.”

The filmmakers highlighted testimonies of two families who have lost their daughters to fatal side effects of hormonal birth control.  “Today, over 35% of hormonal birth control prescriptions are for non-contraceptive reasons like acne, irregular or painful periods, PCOS and endometriosis. Hormonal birth control has been linked to depression, autoimmune disease, cervical cancer, fatal blood clots and other chronic conditions; yet it is still prescribed to healthy women as a panacea for every hormonal and reproductive issue.”

The film does a good job talking about the dangerous physical and mental side effects of the pill, but it is missing mentioning other methods of birth control such the LARC, very popular and producing many side effects. Moral and ethical aspects are an important piece missed for not secular audiences. People needs to know about the mechanism of action of hormonal birth control preventing implantation of a recently conceived embryo.

Watch the Trailer

Hormonal Birth Control Side Effects

A recent article published online Patients, doctors are clashing about side effects of hormonal birth control (statnews.com) discuss the lack information about artificial birth control side effects. The article describes how women suffer side effects that are caused by the artificial hormones and how the issue may not be properly addressed by the health care professionals.

 

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Pro-Life Mission

By Fr Paul Schenck

I offer an analogy for the pro-life mission. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did for the understanding of Christian doctrine what the pro-life movement does for the understanding of human dignity. The Immaculate Conception endows Mary with Redemption, salvation and holiness, her eternal worth, rights and personhood “from the first moment of… conception.”

HARRISBURG, PA. (Catholic online) – The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the Feast we celebrate on December 8th in this way: “To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

 “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” “The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.

The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”. (Eph. 1:3,4) “The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.” (CCC #490-493) 

What comes to mind as I reflect on this beautiful Feast is a vital analogy I offer to the Pro-Life movement to help in the mission. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did for the understanding of Christian doctrine what the pro-life movement does for the understanding of human dignity.

The Immaculate Conception endows Mary with Redemption, salvation and holiness, her eternal worth, rights and personhood ” from the first moment of conception.” Let me explain the analogy.  By withholding the recognition of personhood from the unborn child, the Supreme Court in Roe V Wade, made the human child in the womb a worthless blob waiting for value and meaning to be conferred upon her at some later time. That judgment would be made by others, all of whom would be less noble, certainly more sinful than she.

The personhood of the unborn child is the most compelling moral issue of our time. It is so precisely because it defines who is a human being – and who a human being is. We all know that we must treat each and every human being with the ultimate respect and never deem any person “disposable.”

Genocide, homicide, and murder must never be condoned because it unjustifiably destroys a human being. The reason the unborn child is at the very essence of the question of human dignity, human rights and protection is that, if it is unknown who is a human being, then how can human rights be defined and protected? If any human being can be deprived of the right to life, then all human beings can be deprived of life. It is no longer possible to avoid the question of when a human begins – too much is at stake. We must end the debate and resolve that each and every human being is a person – and that person begins in their first moment of conception.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her Conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” The Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary lists three Scripture passages that imply the Immaculate Conception: Genesis 3:15, Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42. The Genesis passage points to Mary as the Mother of the Redeemer who bears and brings to birth the one who will reverse the curse of Adam and Eve.

In this respect, she was the New Eve. The first Eve’s disobedience brought death, the Second Eve’s fiat brought life. Luke tells us that Mary was full of Grace. For the Church throughout the ages this meant that she possesses every aspect of God’s Grace, all the moral and theological virtues, all the extraordinary gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. And Luke says that she was blessed among women. The Church embraces Mary as unique and unrepeatable. Among women she is singular. As daughter, virgin, wife and mother, she is the supreme example of woman and the fulfillment of every woman’s aspirations.

The Immaculate Conception teaches us that everything that Mary would become she already was in the first moment of her conception.” Mary was not less than Mary before her birth. She possessed, albeit, in a hidden way, all the Grace and spiritual attributes granted her by the merits of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, from the first moment of her conception. What does this teach us about ourselves? That we possess our full potential – our full personhood – from the first moment of our conception. There is no one reading this article today who was not who you are now ever since the very first moment of your conception.

Let me try that again: Every one of you has always been who you are today. You have grown in knowledge, experience, and even faith – but you have never been anyone but yourself, you have never been anyone other than you, you have never, ever been anything less than a unique, unrepeatable, human person. The Immaculate Conception demonstrates that God created each one of us with a unique purpose and plan for our lives, and that plan began the first moment of our conception.

+ Hail Mary, full of Grace.  —– Fr. Paul Schenck, a Priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA., is the founding Director of the National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Center gives the Justices of the Supreme Court, their high-level staff, members of the federal judiciary, members of the US Senate and other public policymakers the information, education, and inspiration they need to better form their consciences so they will make better decisions. He is a Champion of the Pro-Life movement.

 

Roe’s End in Sight, But Our Work Goes On

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Roe v. Wade’s days are numbered. That, remarkably, seems to be the consensus after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments (transcript here) last Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

This blockbuster case involves a challenge by Mississippi’s last abortion facility against the state’s 15-week abortion ban. That law, passed in 2018, has been blocked from going into effect by lower courts, based upon arguments that it violates Roe v. Wade, the infamous Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in 1973.

Roe and subsequent cases, including Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), state that there is a Constitutional “right” to abortion up to the point of viability – that is, the point when the baby can survive outside the womb. The Mississippi law, banning abortion after 15-weeks, was framed in part as a direct challenge to Roe, in the hopes the Supreme Court could finally overturn Roe, giving far more latitude to states to outlaw the killing of unborn children.

Hope was kindled in May, when enough of the SCOTUS justices agreed to hear the challenge against the Mississippi law. As legal scholars noted at the time, there was no conceivable reason for the Court to hear the case, unless enough of the justices are open to overturning Roe outright, or (at the very least) charting some new compromise that would allow states to ban abortions earlier than Roe and Casey allow.

However, while acknowledging that things looked positive, many experienced pro-life leaders have viewed the case with only cautious optimism, knowing that previous opportunities to overturn Roe at the Supreme Court have ended with bitter disappointment.

A Sea Change at the Court?

Wednesday’s oral hearings have markedly changed the mood. Almost every commentator – both pro-abortion and pro-life – who watched the arguments agreed that the Court’s six conservative justices all more or less strongly signaled an openness to rejecting Roe.

In a feature article for The Atlantic entitled “The End of Roe,” legal scholar Mary Ziegler wrote, “Anyone listening to today’s oral argument on abortion could not miss that something historic was happening. … Today’s oral argument signaled that the Court is poised to reverse Roe outright when it decides Dobbs, probably sometime in June or early July.”

The editors of the National Review gave a nod to the delicacy of predicting outcomes at the Court, but concurred that something massively positive seemed to unfold in the courtroom. “Veterans of Supreme Court cases past know that it is risky to read the tea leaves from questions at argument,” they wrote, “but it is hard to see how the argument could have gone much better for the pro-life cause.”

There were many instances in which the more conservative justices appeared to play their hand in a way that suggests that Roe is on the brink. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that as strongly a pro-life justice as Justice Alito would suggest (as he did) that Roe’s viability line “really doesn’t make any sense,” and that it seems “arbitrary” (which it is).

More encouraging, however, is that Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett – Trump’s three recent SCOTUS appointees, whose positions are less known – also seemed skeptical that Roe and Casey withstand close scrutiny.

For instance, at one point Justice Kavanaugh expressed skepticism that – contra Roe – the Constitution has anything at all to say about abortion. Echoing pro-life arguments, Justice Kavanaugh noted that “the core problem here is that the Court has been forced…to pick sides on the most contentious social debate in American life and to do so in a situation where…the Constitution is neutral on the question of abortion.” As such, he concluded, pro-life legal analysts “would say, therefore, it should be left to the people, to the states, or to Congress.”

Importantly, many of the Justices appeared to question the idea that stare decisis – i.e., the legal doctrine that says that judges should, in general, follow court precedent – provides an ironclad reason to resist rejecting Roe.

Much of the debate about the fate of Roe has centered on the question of stare decisis, with pro-abortion legal scholars and justices arguing that overturning Roe would hurt the “reputation” or “legitimacy” of the Court. However, as Mississippi State Solicitor General Scott Stewart astutely argued in the courtroom on Wednesday, the legitimacy of the Court is protected not by blindly upholding precedent, but in having the courage “to stand strong and stand firm” and to follow “constitutional principle” in overruling erroneous precedent when the errors become manifest.

In other words, the reputation of the Court is not protected by doubling down on egregious errors, but in choosing to stand for truth, at all costs.

Amen to that.

Our Work is Just Beginning

It is crucial to note, however, that even if Roe is overturned or modified, it will not be the end of the pro-life movement. Not by a long shot.

It is true that overturning Roe is something that pro-lifers have worked towards, and prayed for, for decades. When we have gathered at the March for Life, we have chanted and held signs urging the Court to “overturn Roe.” But getting rid of Roe has never been the end goal. Ending abortion is.

As Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, noted to the New York Times, there will be some pro-life activists who will “claim victory and walk away” once Roe is overturned. However, he added, “We want to build a culture where abortion is unthinkable. So even if by some miracle next spring Roe is overturned, there is still going to be a ton of work to do.”

Overturning Roe does not immediately make abortion illegal. It only returns the issue to the individual states. Fortunately, brilliant pro-life legal activists and legislators have presciently focused on state-level legislation for decades now, working to pass strong pro-life legislation, even when that legislation can’t go into effect until Roe is overturned.

According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, if Roe is overturned, twenty-six states will mostly or completely ban abortion. In a detailed breakdown, pro-abortion Democratic activist Jessica Post notes that nine states have never repealed pre-Roe abortion bans. With Roe overturned, they would immediately go back into effect. Meanwhile, twelve states (including four with pre-Roe bans on the books) have passed so-called “trigger laws,” that will automatically ban abortion once Roe is overturned.

baby in ultrasound

On the other hand, however, fourteen states and D.C. have passed laws strongly defending abortion. In those states, the killing of unborn children would go on as before. Indeed, likely at a higher level than before, with some women traveling to those states to have their children killed.

In her analysis, however, Jessica Post unintentionally gave high praise to the grit and genius of the pro-life strategy, noting that “Republicans worked for decades to win state legislatures so they could pass extreme abortion bans that rile up their far-right base with the hope of overturning Roe. We can no longer rely on SCOTUS to protect this fundamental right. That time is up.” She added, “We need Dems to throw themselves into state legislative elections just like Republicans have been doing.”

What a testimony to pro-life prescience! However, Post is right: once (or ifRoe is overturned, all attention will turn to the state level. At that point, there will be a greater need than ever for pro-life activists to get involved at the local and state level. There can be no passing the buck: at that point, the issue lands right at our doorsteps.

And our efforts can’t only be aimed at passing (and protecting) pro-life laws! With abortion becoming illegal in many states, there will be a rise in the number of women needing practical help to bring their children safely into the world. We will need a movement like none other to provide concrete resources to families, ensuring that no couple need face the uncertainties and hardship of a difficult pregnancy alone. True, pro-lifers have already done yeoman’s labor in building a social safety net by founding thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers. With Roe gone, however, that net will have to expand even further.

Pray for Courage for Our Justices

There are many variations of the proverb “don’t count your chickens until they hatch.” Indications at the Court last Wednesday were extraordinarily promising. However, as the editors of National Review wrote, “A majority of the Court appears to understand that Roe is bad law. What remains to be seen is whether they have the courage to act on that.”

That must be our prayer today: Pray ardently, and fast, for our Supreme Court justices. They have heard the arguments. Enough of them appear to be sympathetic to the truth. But there is a difference between knowing the truth and acting on it. Most of us cannot understand the level of pressure – psychological, social, and spiritual – that is being placed upon them. If they overturn Roe, all the ire of the powerful abortion lobby, and the dark spirits that revel in the slaughter of abortion, will be aimed in their direction.

Let us cover them with prayer. May we all yet live to see not only the end of Roe, but also the end of the violence and scourge of abortion, in the United States and around the world.

Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUDs) Appear To Have Systemic Effects on the Body

Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUDs) Appear To Have Systemic Effects on the Body (scitechdaily.com)

This week, a new study about the systemic effects of IUDs will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).  The author of the study used Breast MRI  to show that  (LNG-IUS) has effects not only in the uterus but also systemic effects.

Levonorgestrel-releasing  (LNG-IUS) is used by millions of women worldwide and appears to have systemic effects on the body like those of hormone replacement therapy.  “It has been claimed that IUDs have a purely local effect on the uterus,” said Luisa Huck, M.D., a radiology resident in the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany. “Our study results suggest that this is not true.”

LNG-IUS works by releasing a small amount of progestins into the uterus. It was believed that any side effects would be confined to the reproductive system. However, this study suggests that LNG-IUS can be associated with systemic side effects similar to those of systemic hormonal contraception.

The author of the study concluded that “IUDs appear to be a very safe means of contraception and are generally well-tolerated,” she said. “However, if women with an IUD in place experience unexplainable side effects, they should talk to their doctor and consider using other types of contraception.”

A recent study has found that women who currently or recently used the LNG-IUS had an increase of 21% in the risk of breast cancer compared to women who had never used hormonal contraceptives.

 

Protecting Boys and Men from Endocrine Disruptors

Protecting Men and Boys from Endocrine Disruptors – Natural Womanhood

In 1992, the British Medical Journal published a disturbing study which suggested that human semen quality had declined by approximately 50% from 1930 to 1991 (1). Subsequent research has confirmed that male fertility seems to be declining—and a whole host of man-made chemicals appears to be a possible cause.

These chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors or endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are used in plastic, food packaging, pesticides, cosmetics, cleaning products, paint, toys, personal care products, and household products. The amount of these chemicals produced annually around the globe is measured in the millions of tons!

Many of these man-made chemicals affect our endocrine system by interfering with our hormones’ normal functions, directly affecting our reproductive functioning.

We’ve discussed endocrine disruptors before and this time we’re focusing specifically on how they affect males and their fertility. We’ll also look at ways to reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and how protect the men in our lives.

It’s important to note that these chemicals seem to have the most significant impact on babies and children as their bodies are developing, which is all the more reason for women who are looking to get pregnant anytime soon to limit their exposure to EDCs—including hormonal contraception—as much as possible.

Androgens are key for healthy male development

A category of hormones called androgens are essential for the development of the male reproductive system. Androgens—testosterone being the most well known—are usually thought of as the male reproductive hormones, though smaller amounts are necessary in women’s bodies as well. The masculinization of a boy’s internal and external male reproductive organs are dependent mostly on testosterone and one of its metabolites, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which are produced in the testicles. Thus, normal male development requires a balanced hormonal environment.

The period of time when the male reproductive system is developing is incredibly sensitive to chemicals that have an anti-androgen effect. At about eight weeks gestation, the cells of the forming testes begin to produce testosterone, which drives the differentiation and development of the internal and external genitalia. The ability of endocrine-disrupting chemicals to suppress androgen synthesis during fetal and neonatal life can cause a series of male reproductive disturbances, such as cryptorchidism (the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotal sac), hypospadias (a condition in which the opening of the urethra is somewhere other than at the tip of the penis), impaired fertility (especially due to poor semen quality), and an elevated incidence of testicular cancer. (2, 3, 4, 5) The abnormal development of testes in an infant boy can have long-term consequences for sperm production, and therefore his future ability to conceive children.

The perinatal period is a particularly sensitive window of development in which minor hormonal disturbances may have a long-lasting impact on fertility.

Other less talked about effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals include alterations of genetic systems and gene expression. These effects are particularly troubling since alterations in genetic programming during early stages of development can have profound effects years later and may also lead to transgenerational inheritance of disease. (6,7)

Worst endocrine disruptors for males

Bisphenol A

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics and epoxy resins used in food and drink containers, plastic water bottles, baby bottles, dental sealants, and a variety of household products. It is widespread in the environment and every year 2.2–4.7 million tons of BPA are released into the environment. Humans are mainly exposed to BPA as it leaches from the inner lining of canned food and microwave containers during heating of food or through beverages in plastic bottles. BPA can be detected in several human body samples, such as serum, urine, amniotic fluid of pregnant women, breast milk, and even in semen. It has been estimated that urinary BPA is detected in more than 90% of Americans. Several studies have shown that increased urine BPA levels may be associated with decreased sperm concentrations and decreased semen quality. (8)

Alkylphenols

Alkylphenols are used industrially in the production of detergents, latex paint, adhesives, and plastics as the stabilizers to package food, detergents, disinfectants, surface cleaners, cosmetic products, herbicides, and pesticides. Unlike most chemicals, which usually become less toxic with biodegradation, alkylphenols become more toxic when they break down. Humans are primarily exposed to alkylphenols through contaminated food and water. Alkylphenols have been shown to affect testicular development and testosterone production.

Phthalates

Phthalates are industrial chemicals used as plasticizers in the manufacture of plastics, solvents, sealants, paints, varnishes, detergents, cosmetics, personal care products, toys, and household products.

Phthalates easily leach from plastics into foods, beverages and body fluids. Factors such as product age, use, and ultraviolet light exposure cause phthalates to leach even more. Humans can be exposed to them through ingestion, absorption, inhalation, and skin contact. Around 6 million tons of phthalates are produced worldwide every year.

Phthalates are considered to be one of the major groups of anti-androgenic substances causing disorders of male reproductive development, such as hypospadias, cryptorchidism, smaller testes and penis size, alterations of the vas deferens and epididymis, poor sperm production, testicular germ cell tumors and reduced semen quality. In humans, maternal exposure to phthalates also results in fetal exposure to these toxins.

Start by filtering what you bring into your home

Avoiding every product with these chemicals may seem daunting, but you can dramatically reduce your family’s exposure by making one small change at a time. You have a lot of control over what you bring into your home, so begin making some simple swaps when it comes to what you put in and on your body.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, or any woman planning to conceive, should take extra care to avoid endocrine disrupting-chemicals for the future hormonal health of their offspring.

Avoid endocrine disruptors in your food:

  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before consuming them,
  • Replace food storage containers with glass, especially when storing hot food or drinks.
  • Find reusable glass or stainless steel drink containers and metal straws for your coffee, tea, and water.
  • Reduce consumption of canned and processed foods (or at least check the label that items are in BPA free packaging).
  • Never microwave food in plastic containers.
  • Avoid plastic containers designated #3, #6, and #7.
  • Prepare more meals at home and try to use fresh ingredients.
  • Consider using a water filter (we know that women on the synthetic estrogens found in hormonal contraception excrete it through their urine, where it ultimately ends up in our water supply).
  • If possible, purchase organic produce, meat, and dairy products.
  • Replace older, non-stick pans with newer, ceramic-coated pans.

Avoid endocrine disruptors in your body products:

  • Each time you need to buy a new bottle of something, look for a new natural brand to try.
  • Avoid anything that has “fragrance” or “parfum” in the ingredient list.
  • Use washing balls (Google “washing balls” or “laundry balls”).
  • Do not use fabric softener—use wool dryer balls instead.
  • Use the apps ThinkDirty or SkinSafe to see how safe your products are.

Though endocrine-disrupting chemicals can seem unavoidable, the good news is that their dangers are becoming more well-known and many companies are voluntarily offering safer product options. If you begin to read labels, you’ll find lots of packages that say “BPA free” or “No phthalates.”

It has taken me years to make healthy product swaps, and some of the easiest changes I’ve made to avoid the extra chemicals for my family is to replace all our food and drink containers with glass or stainless steel. I also steer away from using canned food. Whenever we run out of a lotion, soap or detergent, I look for a healthier product to replace it. Yes, these products can be pricey, but there have been many products I’ve found we don’t really need, like dryer sheets. The extra time and money it has taken to make these changes is well worth the peace of mind knowing my husband, children (and especially my two boys) have healthy bodies and healthy hormones.

References:

  1. Carlsen E., Giwercman A., Keiding N. and Skakkebaek N.E. 1992 Evidence for decreasing quality of semen during past 50 years. British Medical Journal 305 609–613.
  2. McLachlan, J. A., Newbold, R. R., and Bullock, B. (1975). Reproductive tract lesions in male mice exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol. Science 190, 991–992. doi: 10.1126/science.242076
  3. Gill, W. B., Schumacher, G. F., Bibbo, M., Straus, F. H. II, and Schoenberg, H. W. (1979). Association of diethylstilbestrol exposure in utero with cryptorchidism, testicular hypoplasia and semen abnormalities. J. Urol. 122, 36–39.
  4. Jensen, T. K., Toppari, J., Keiding, N., and Skakkebaek, N. E. (1995). Do environmental estrogens contribute to the decline in male reproductive health? Clin. Chem. 41, 1896–1901.
  5. Zhang, L., Dong, L., Ding, S., Qiao, P., Wang, C., Zhang, M., et al. (2014). Effects of n-butylparaben on steroidogenesis and spermatogenesis through changed E2 levels in male rat offspring. Environ. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 37, 705–717. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2014.01.016
  6. Schug, T. T., Janesick, A., Blumberg, B., and Heindel, J. J. (2011). Endocrine disrupting chemicals and disease susceptibility. J. Steroid Bichem. 127, 204–215. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.08.007
  7. Skinner, M. K. (2011). Role of epigenetics in developmental biology and transgenerational inheritance. Birth Defects Res. C Embryo Today 93, 51–55. doi: 10.1002/bdrc.20199
  8. Li, D. K., Zhou, Z., Miao, M., He, Y., Wang, J., Ferber, J., et al. (2011). Urine bisphenol-A (BPA) level in relation to semen quality. Fertil. Steril. 95, 625–630. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.09.026

SARS-CoV-2 and the female reproductive system

A recent study published in The American Journal of Reproductive Immunology evaluated the possible cross-reactivity of antibodies against Spike proteins and proteins related to human fertility. The authors  belong to research centers in Israel, Italy, France and Russia. They conducted a systematic study to understand the immunological potential of peptides shared between SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein and human proteins involved in reproduction and the possible effects that molecular mimicry may have on female fertility.

Molecular mimicry is the resemblance that exists between antigens; in this case, between the Spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 and the proteins of human tissues. It is a mechanism that can contribute to female and male infertility, by generating autoantibodies that react against the organs of human reproduction.

The authors of the study did a search in a library of 82 human proteins linked to the process of differentiation of the ovum (oogenesis). They compared immunological potential of the peptides shared between SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein and oogenesis-related proteins. SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein was found to share 41 minimal immune determinants, with 27 human proteins that relates to oogenesis, placentation and/or decidualization.

These findings suggest potential cross-reactivity between the homologous peptides that may result in the development of autoantibodies and new-onset of related autoimmune manifestations.

The authors of the study emphasized that the molecular mimicry found in the study  does not indicate female reproductive dysfunction in people who suffer COVID-19 infection. They suggest potential cross-reactivity between the homologous peptides that may result in the development of autoantibodies and new-onset of related autoimmune manifestations.

These scientific discoveries about the similarity between Spike glycoprotein and human tissues are very important. All the approved COVID 19 vaccines used the Spike protein. Clinicians  should monitor patients vaccinated against COVID-19, due to the problems of cross-reactivity between the homologous peptides and possible autoimmune diseases, cancer, and infertility that may appear among the vaccinated population.

How Stopping Oral Contraceptives Can Affect Menstrual Cycle Biomarkers: A Review of Research

By Grace Strella, MD

How Stopping Oral Contraceptives Can Affect Menstrual Cycle Biomarkers: A Review of Research – FACTS (factsaboutfertility.org)

Editor’s Note: This week, we publish a review of important research[i] published in the Journal of Women’s Health in 2011. Dr. Grace Strella summarized the research while on the FACTS elective. The study by Nassaralla et al is titled, “Characteristics of the menstrual cycle after discontinuation of oral contraceptives.” Before this research was published in 2011, no studies had assessed cervical mucus quality upon discontinuation of oral contraceptives (OCPs). Although a 2002 study[ii] by Gnoth et al had assessed basal body temperature and ovulation, cycle lengths, luteal lengths, and cervical mucus peak, it did not evaluate cervical mucus quality. More research is still needed like this groundbreaking 2011 study to understand the full impact of OCPs on fertility and other important aspects of women’s health.

Why This Matters

A woman came into my clinic to discuss fertility and wanted counseling on how to prepare to become pregnant. She had just gotten married and they decided to start a family, so she wanted to stop her birth control pills. She asked me how long it would take for things to “go back to normal,” as she wanted to have children as soon as possible. I told her it could be a few months, but that her fertility would eventually return to normal.

Thankfully, she did not ask any further questions because honestly, I don’t think I would have had many answers for her. This experience showed me I lack knowledge on this important topic, and need to fill in these gaps before another patient comes in seeking my help with such an important aspect of her life. 

According to the CDC website, approximately 14% of women ages 15 to 49 were using the pill between 2017 and 2019.[iii] It would make sense intuitively that many of these women would eventually decide to discontinue oral contraceptives to achieve pregnancy. When it comes time for them to attempt to conceive, it would also make sense for women to use fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) to increase their chances of conception. For this reason, it is important to know what biomarkers will be affected after stopping their oral contraceptives, and for how long these changes will affect their menstrual cycle charting.

Although a few studies have looked at the effects of discontinuing oral contraceptives on a woman’s hormones and return of fertility, this 2011 article by Nassaralla et al was the first to integrate charting, cervical mucus, and specific characteristics of menstrual flow.

Study Design

This was a retrospective matched cohort study that evaluated the biomarkers of the menstrual cycle after stopping OCPs. A total of 140 women were involved in the study. The researchers randomly matched 70 women who had just stopped taking oral contraceptives by age and parity with 70 women who had not used oral contraceptives for more than a year. For six months, they recorded daily observations including menstrual flow (intensity, duration) and mucus characteristics. With this information recorded, they calculated the cycle mucus score, luteal phase length, and the estimated day of ovulation, and assessed overall cycle length.

Biomarkers Altered by OCPs

The study found that the women who had recently stopped oral contraceptives had lower mucus quality scores for the first two cycles. They also noted a later estimated day of ovulation in the second cycle, and an overall decreased menstrual flow intensity in the first four cycles. These results were all statistically significant. In summary, multiple biomarkers were altered for at least two months after stopping oral contraceptives.

Unfortunately, this study has a few limitations that could be addressed in future studies. The study only looked at the first 6 months after discontinuation of oral contraceptives. It might be helpful to see if more patterns are observed a full year after stopping, although the study did show the differences had already minimized by six months. Future research could also assess hormonal levels and biomarkers in the same group of women and assess the impact of potential treatment with hormones such as cyclic progesterone.

The theory behind the delayed normalization of these menstrual cycle biomarkers is that it takes time for the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis to normalize after being affected by exogenous estrogen from OCPs. In patient care, it would be helpful to be able to provide a woman with specific examples of how certain biomarkers will be affected as she begins to chart her cycles in an attempt to increase her chances of conception after stopping OCPs. Information from studies like this one can be applied clinically as physicians and other medical professionals counsel patients on their return to normal fertility after stopping oral contraceptives.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Joe Stanford, one of the study authors, was kind enough to review this summary of their research. Reflecting back, he thinks perhaps the main limitation of this study is that “it’s old enough that the oral contraceptives studied are somewhat different than the ones in use today.” Still, the study design and important data collected can both inspire and inform future research.

Dr. Stanford also shared how their study was strengthened through a timely collaboration:

“Some may be interested in the back story on this publication. Diane Daly and I recognized the need for more data on the impact of recent use of oral contraceptives on women charting their cycles, with the Creighton Model specifically. We started working on collecting data for this study as early as 1992. A few years later, we had completed some preliminary data and analyses.

“Subsequently, I became aware that Claudia Nassaralla and Richard Fehring were working on the same question with a nearly identically designed study (matched retrospective cohort study). Great minds think alike! We communicated and decided to combine our data for better sample size and analysis. After our first submission to the journal, the reviewers requested a more sophisticated statistical analysis appropriate to matched data with variable numbers of cycles per woman. Peer review with added value! Karen Schliep joined the team to do the final statistical analysis, and the manuscript was then accepted for publication, nearly 20 years later!”

References

[i] Nassaralla CL, Stanford JB, Daly KD, Schneider M, Schliep KC, Fehring RJ. Characteristics of the menstrual cycle after discontinuation of oral contraceptives. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011;20(2):169-177. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2001.

[ii] Gnoth C, Frank-Herrmann P, Schmoll A, Godehardt E, Freundl G. Cycle characteristics after discontinuation of oral contraceptives. Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology 2002;16:307-17.

[iii] www.CDC.gov/nchs/fastats/contraceptive.htm.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Grace Strella, MD

Grace Strella, MD is a family medicine resident at Via Christi Family Medicine Residency in Wichita, KS. She participated in the FACTS elective during residency.

Let’s protect our daughters!

by Anonymous author

Let’s protect our daughters! » MercatorNet

I am a French mother whose teenage daughter recently announced to me that she was gender dysphoric and wanted hormones. Being left-wing politically oriented, a feminist, and sensitive to the rights of minorities, I first thought my daughter had to be supported in the difficult path to transition.

I find this is a common first thought. But after researching the issue, I discovered a completely different—and terrifying indeed—perspective— that my distressed daughter was being rushed down a highly dangerous path. I found also, that, as girls like my daughter hurtle down this road, they are encouraged at all turns by LGBT activists who sincerely believe they are fighting for freedom and against discrimination, while, at the same time, being secretly funded by companies with dubious ethics.

This happens in a context where the media, the educational sphere and the medical world are largely and woefully misinformed, and generally sympathetic to trans claims of marginalization to the exclusion of all other perspectives.

Great Britain, Sweden and Finland are ahead of France on this path of gender ideology—and in terms of resistance to the trend. For years, in these countries, as well as in North America, parents and health professionals have kept their doubts alive and have challenged the ideology behind medical transition of minors. Today medical studies abound showing the ineptitude and danger of early transitions before age 25.

You may not feel concerned by this story. Maybe you are more interested in classical politics, social inequalities and the climate change. But… the trans wave is now in France, just four or five years after Great Britain, and we need to be vigilant and aware.

Today, it is my daughter. Maybe your daughter will be next? Or her childhood friend? Or the neighbour’s daughter? Your niece? One of your students? One of your patients? Your granddaughter? Your sister or cousin? And this contagion is not limited to girls. Boys too are increasingly under threat from trans ideology.

More than anything else, I researched and wrote this to protect my daughter and help her question this dangerous path before rushing headlong into it. For this reason, I must keep my name secret, and I cannot activate my usual professional, friendly, feminist, political networks.

My hope is that my research, written in French and translated into English, will help others. Most of the resources linked in this article are in French, some in English. This is a world-wide phenomenon and resources should be available, eventually, in all languages.

I thank you for disseminating this text as widely as possible, by all the means at your disposal, including social networks used by young people: Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, and your friendly, educational, medical, lesbian, feminist, media, political networks… All ideas are welcome to support our girls and boys!

1. What is this about ?

Gender dysphoria is a kind of suffering related to the feeling that one belongs to the other gender, in relation to one’s birth sex. Until recently, this was a rather rare diagnosis. However, in the last decade, this phenomenon has increased exponentially, by + 1500% to + 4000%, especially among young girls in Western countries.

Graph Source: Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine (SEGM)

The documentaries The Trans Train1 and Dysphoric are excellent resources to discover a phenomenon which has swept through the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Finland, and is now arriving in France, Spain and the rest of Europe. The video “Gender or Sex?” (in French) is also very educational and family-friendly.

Some studies suggest a kind of social contagion is going on, a phenomenon related to a form of expression of adolescent suffering in young girls similar to adolescent anorexia. Clusters—groups of young girls wishing to transition—are frequently seen appearing.

2. Sex and gender, vocabulary and ideologies

Gender ideology is rife with new and reinterpreted terms, and it’s important to learn how trans-activists use them in untraditional ways.

The sex of a person is biological data linked to our DNA (XX or XY in 99.8% of cases, intersex in rare cases). This genetic heritage determines (except intersex exceptions, in 1 to 2% of cases) the primary sexual characteristics: ovaries, uterus / penis, testes as well as secondary sexual characteristics, after puberty (chest, hair, etc).

By widely shared convention, we call female a human female (XX) and man a human male (XY). Gender usually refers to the set of socially constructed differences and stereotypes associated, in a given culture, with each biological sex. So, today, pink is said to be the colour of girls and blue that of boys, although the opposite convention prevailed in the past.

Thus, from a classical feminist perspective, sex is a physiological datum that cannot be changed, but stereotypes and gender norms can be questioned and challenged. This is the spirit underlying texts such as the Woman’s Declaration, an international declaration of women rights based on biological sex. Many lesbian and homosexual movements are also part of this classical feminist tradition.

The trans movement uses very different terminology.

According to them, sex is assigned at birth by the biomedical sciences and the terms gender identity (deep feeling of the person), cis-transgenderFtMMtF are used.

Harry Potter’s author J.K. Rowling’s alleged transphobia recent controversy stems from the fact that she joked about the disappearance of the word “woman” to describe a person having their period—a factual statement that would have been uncontroversial up until the very recent past.

The video “Gender or Sex? (in French) provides a very educational scientific reminder on the terminological confusion between sex and gender. The video “An honest discussion on Gender”, with Dr Debrah Soh also covers this issue well.

3. Psychotherapeutic follow-up or medical transition?

Gender dysphoria is the cause of genuine, significant distress among young people. With adequate psychotherapeutic follow-up, its causes are usually understood, and/or disappear in 60 to 90% of cases at the end of adolescence2. It can very often be linked to autism3 or homosexuality, and sometimes to schizophrenia.

Moreover, regardless of any transphobia, it is an undeniable fact that medical transition (hormones and surgery) is largely irreversible and dangerous for bone densityheart4 and fertility. Moreover it hasn’t been demonstrated to even improve mental health.

Our purpose here is not to deny the possibility of medically transition for adults who have thought at length about this issue. What we do aim is to question:

  • the permanence or desistance of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents
  • the usefulness of an irreversible medical transition, potentially dangerous and often unsuited to their suffering
  • a teenagers’ capacity to have true informed consent to lifelong medicalization of their body, while a consensus seems to affirm that the human brain reaches psychic maturity around the age of 25
  • the influence that social networks and LGBT activism can have on young people experiencing doubt and suffering, while being very much mobilized against discrimination

With these questions in mind, it is important to promote among young females the need to take the time for reflection and the possibility to have access to serious psychotherapeutic monitoring prior to any form of medical transition5. These are the demands of many movements around the world, including:

4. The detransitioners

Detransition is a growing phenomenon related to the explosion of gender dysphoria and the transition of young minors. Discussion of detransition has been taboo within the trans community, as it counters the narrative about the immutability of gender identity. Nonetheless, more and more young people are detransitioning. Medically speaking, the transition pathway is delicate.

Studies on this phenomenon remain scarce because showing interest in detransition is considered by activists as transphobia, and those looking into it have been shunned and vilified.

Source: Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, medical study dated May 2021

However, medical studies on this topic are increasing in number. Detransitioners are getting collectively organized and their voices are getting out, including through the reddit thread Detrans, a remarkable report on Radio Canada, an article in the monthly “Causette” in France, the documentary “Trans Regret”, a documentary of the BBC, a long interview with a detransitioner hereand the Detransition Advocacy Network. Related websites are flourishing: Detransvoicespost-transPiqueresprojectSex Change Regret. The French “Observatoire de la petite Sirène” (the Little Mermaid Observatory) also collects various contact information of detransitioners.

5. International situation. Legislative developments

In SwedenFinland and the United Kingdom, legislation has changed very recently to the effect that puberty blockers and transition hormones are now prohibited for minors.

In England, the Keira Bell case (a young woman who transitioned at age 16 and sued the clinic a few years later) resulted in a chilling in support for the medical transition of minors. An article in Medscape (translated in French here) was published in April 2021 under the title“Transgender adolescents: Are the winds starting to turn?”. In the United States, Arkansas has just adopted legislation similar to that of Finland. In Canada the recently passed “Bill C6” law aroused opposition because of the ambiguous wording comparing the psychotherapeutic treatment of young dysphoric patients to conversion therapy.

In the rest of Europe, this issue is new. In Spain and Germany, the Parliament voted against authorizing transitions for minors. Further details can be found here. In France, the newly (2021) created Observatoire de la petite Sirène warns against medical transition for minors. In Switzerland, the amqg.ch organization plays the same role.

6. Trans claims and oppositions

The trans movement demands the withdrawal of trans identity questions from the psychiatric sphere (depsychiatrization) and the right to self-determination of one’s gender and to medical treatment (hormones, sex reassignment surgery), fully reimbursed by social security without prior psychotherapeutic follow-up.

This is relayed explicitly or implicitly by various (most certainly well-intentioned) political movements or institutions in the name of the fight against transphobia and discrimination. In many Western countries, the recommendations of WPATH are rarely questioned.

The main oppositions come from the conservative movements, which the present text does not study further, and from various movements already mentioned above:

These movements, irrespective of their political opinions on other subjects, are all very worried about this trend towards the rapid medical transition of young minors, and their medicalization for life, without serious psychotherapeutic follow-up.

The LGB Alliance in the UK goes so far as to call trans medicine conversion therapy for young gay men.

7. The weight of lobbies

Very large companies linked to the medical world massively subsidize the Trans movement, or certain political parties with positions favourable to the positions of the trans community. For example Ferring Pharmaceuticals has regularly subsidized the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom.

Articles by journalists Jennifer Bilek and Jamie Hamilton highlight the influence of large companies. One of these is Thomson Reuters, acting through the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In partnership with the LGBTQI organization Iglyo which trains young activists and Dentons lawyers, it produced a report entitled “Only Adults? Good practices in Legal Gender Recognition for Youth” recommending the adoption of laws allowing medical transition for minors without parental consent.

The very educational Australian video, “The business model of youth transitioning” highlights the huge markets behind the potential life-long medicalization of hundreds of thousands of young Westerners.

Jennifer Bilek’s article “The Stryker Corporation and the Arcus Foundation: Billionaires Behind The New LGBT Movement” informs on the links between wealthy Americans in the medical world and larger LGBT associations.

In another article entitled “Who Are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology?”, Bilek investigates the many great fortunes behind the LGBT movement.

8. Parents

In France, information offering an alternative to the medical transition for minors is difficult to find. As this text shows, the (most certainly sincere) speech of many trans activists calling for the transition on simple request, without psychiatric follow-up, including for minors, meets very little institutional opposition, and disqualifies all oppositions as transphobic.

What is more, Family Planning institutions, the Mediator of Rights, and many doctors, are trained by transactivist groups pushing them to accept young people’s transition desires without questioning them. Parents that question the trans affirmative narrative have very few resources, although a parent group in France will be created soon.

In other countries, various groups and organizations are springing up to provide parent resources, including GenspectPour les Droits des enfants du QuébecBayswater Support group, Transgender Trend, the “Association for a measured approach to gender issues” in Switzerland, AMANDA in Spain, Scream for Recognition in Belgium, and Tranteens sorge berechtigt in Germany.

The usual difficulty faced by parents of dysphoric children is a kind of suicide blackmail: either you accept your child’s medical transition, for his or her good, or your child will commit suicide (and in addition you are transphobic). From a scientific standpoint, this threat is a myth and has been thoroughly discredited.

There is no scientific evidence that medical transition improves matters – quite the contrary, in fact.

Notes

1 “The Trans Train” is a 2019 three-part Swedish documentary that rocked Sweden very quickly and ditched medical transitions on minor. Part 2 and Part 3 are also available on YouTube with English subtitles.

2 See also: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23702447/ and https://site.pdfquebec.org/files/Photos%20_conferenciers/M%c3%a9moire%20Projet%20Loi%2070%20_PDFQuebec.pdf

3 See also: https://comprendrelautisme.com/identification-de-genre-chez-les-femmes-autistes/ and https://4w.pub/autism-puberty-gender-dysphoria-view-from-an-autistic-desisted-woman/

4 See also: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.119.005597

5 See also: https://www.transgendertrend.com

6 See also: https://site.pdfquebec.org/files/Pr%C3%A9sentation%20Comit%C3%A9%20sur%20le%20Genre.pdf

This article has been republished with permission from the Substack blog Parents with Inconveniente

Coercion and Birth Control in Sex Trafficking

Coercion and Birth Control in Sex Trafficking – Natural Womanhood

This summer, the Marvel movie Black Widow featuring Scarlet Johannson finally offered some backstory into the life of the much-neglected superheroine, Natasha Romanoff. As one of the Avengers without superhuman strength, Romanoff is known for her expert interrogation and investigatory skills gained from her time as a Russian operative. Films reveal tidbits from her past over the Marvel Comic Universe cannon. We know her training was something of a forced trial by fire, and in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s revealed that a part of the training includes sterilization. “It’s efficient,” she tells Bruce Banner.

In Black Widow, Romanoff, reconnected with her sister Yelena, vows to combat the system that led to her oppression. It is revealed that the two sisters do not have menstrual cycles as a result of their exploitative training program.

“They rip out all of your reproductive organs,” Yelena explains. “They chop them all away . . . so you can’t have babies.”

The system Yelena and Natasha Romanoff end up fighting in the culmination of Black Widow reveals a network of trafficked women treated as disposable pawns in the battles of more powerful actors. The women were kidnapped as girls or otherwise lured into the “Red Room,” before being enslaved and forced into an aggressive militia training program, wherein their free will is stripped from them, requiring them to comply with everything commanded of them. Some escape, as Natasha and Yelena did, but these are the exceptions.

The film Black Widow is not making a subtle comparison to human trafficking and other exploitations of girls and women in its plot. While it’s a comic book story, the plot contains clear allusions to real-life abuses of girls and women, and not by accident. Black Widow director Cate Shortland told USA Today her goal was to “have the Marvel universe intersect with reality. So we talked about trafficking. We talk about women’s reproductive rights in the film because they’re things we care about.”

Reproductive harm and sex trafficking

Human trafficking takes place in the forms of labor trafficking (when people perform labor through the use of force, fraud, or coercion) and sex trafficking (when people are sold in commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, or when any minor is sold in commercial sex acts). Trafficking is a modern-day slavery that takes place all over the world, including the United States. And, as I discovered completing a yearlong journalism fellowship on the topic, sex trafficking takes place in all areas of the sex industry, from prostitution and strip clubs to pornography.

Sex traffickers most often come in the form of a “pimp,” a person who grooms, recruits, and profits from selling people in sex. Young women, men, girls, and boys, can become caught up in sex trafficking in a number of ways, from being kidnapped, to being manipulated by a charming boyfriend into helping him make money to get out of a bind. However it begins, sex trafficking involves significant sexual abuse and trauma, often a Stockholm Syndrome-type bonding to the trafficker making it hard to escape, and harder for law enforcement to detect. For many girls and young women, it involves significant reproductive abuse as well.

The role of birth control in sex trafficking

Survivors of sex trafficking have told me that pimps will take advantage of any opportunity to make a buck by selling sex. Since much of sex trafficking involves selling sex in prostitution, maximizing profit for traffickers requires that trafficked women not get pregnant. In other words, birth control is essential to be “efficient” in the sale of sex. Whether a trafficked woman attempts to use condoms, is on hormonal contraceptives, is sterilized, uses Plan B, or has an abortion when pregnant, birth control is an essential part of making money for traffickers.

“Commercial sex has a wide range of negative effects on the reproductive health of prostituted women and trafficked girls,” Dr. Michael Shively, senior advisor on research and data analysis for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, told me in an email. “The consent and welfare of prostituted women is of little concern to pimps, traffickers, and brothel owners, and maximizing income is always the objective.” As a result of pressure to please and earn money, Dr. Shively explains, condom use is largely ineffective as a means of protecting from STIs or preventing pregnancy for trafficked women. As he told me:

Sexually exploited people often try to protect themselves through condom use but are usually forced or pressured into unprotected sex. Unprotected sex is regarded as an occupational hazard. Those who insist on condoms are frequently forced to engage in sex without them, and those who succeed in consistent condom use earn far less money than those who don’t. . . . Women insisting to protect themselves are substandard earners, and often pay the consequences of beatings and coercion until they become compliant and accommodating about allowing sex buyers unprotected sex.

Connie Rose, a sex trafficking survivor who helps other trafficked people with the organization Victims 2 Survivors, shared with me how she has known many women who have suffered reproductive harm from menstruation control methods as well as birth control methods. “I have known other survivors who were forced to use vagina cups so that your flow was not a part of the ‌sexual‌ ‌experience‌. They are also a form of birth control,” she told me in a phone call, but used during prostitution, she says, “they created irritation ‌in‌ ‌the lining‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌uterus,‌ and ‌a‌ ‌lot‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌friends‌ ‌who used them ended up having ‌hysterectomies and incredible‌ ‌health‌ ‌problems.”

Rose told me that in the past when helping trafficked women, it was hard to set up a well women’s visit to the doctor without fear, “when there’s a warrant out for your arrest.” Rose is now a survivor trainer at Global Strategic Operatives, an organization that trains healthcare professionals how to identify and support trafficking survivors, stating “88% of victims seek medical care or treatment while being trafficked.” And since many girls and women who have been trafficked into prostitution are treated as criminals by law enforcement, advocacy organizations like Shared Hope International aim to train law enforcement officials how to recognize the signs and work with survivor-led groups to help women recognize cycles of abuse and leave their traffickers.

Shared Hope and NCOSE and other anti-trafficking organizations insist that the most effective way to reduce trafficking of persons is to follow the Nordic Model—to decriminalize prostituted people and focus law enforcement efforts on reducing demand for prostitution by criminalizing sex buyers, in addition to targeting traffickers.

While traction is being made to recognize signs of trafficking and help victims get the health and recovery services they need, there is a lot of work still left to be done, including in the area of women’s health. Often those seeking women’s health services are not identified as victims of trafficking, and are therefore given incomplete care.

According to Amanda De Jesus, a FertilityCare Practitioner Intern (FCPI) and a member of the Northwest Indiana Anti-Trafficking Coalition, “Unfortunately, there are many women and girls who are being evaluated by medical professionals while they are still being trafficked. Because a lot of these doctors aren’t trained to recognize the signs of trafficking, often they are just being treated for UTIs, STIs, etc., given birth control, and sent out the door.”

While some might still view this as a net good for the trafficked women coming in to receive birth control services, viewed another way, it is overlooking the larger problem and applying an insufficient treatment—one that might even cover up or further the abuse. “Birth control, in many ways, is another tool that a trafficker can use to take control away from a survivor,” De Jesus told me in an email. “When birth control is forced upon women (or they are coerced into taking it), I believe it shows these girls that their natural bodies are something to be hated and suppressed while they are used as an object for another’s pleasure. Not to mention the myriad of negative side effects that often accompany taking hormonal contraceptives.”

“Birth control, in many ways, is another tool that a trafficker can use to take control away from a survivor.”

This is born out in survivors’ testimonies. A 2015 report by Laura Lederer and Christopher Wetzel, published in the legal journal Annals of Health Law, was the first of its kind “to examine many of the reproductive health issues experienced by sex trafficking victims, including birth control usage, pregnancies, miscarriages, and forced and elective abortions.” Of the surveyed women, “a large majority (80.9%) of those who answered the question indicated that they had used some form of birth control for some portion of their time being trafficked. Of those who specified where they obtained the birth control, approximately half (51.7%) said they had obtained it from a doctor or clinic.”

As one survivor shared in Lederer’s report:

During the time I was on the street, I went to hospitals, urgent care clinics, women’s health clinics, and private doctors. No one ever asked me anything anytime I ever went to a clinic. . . . I was on birth control during the 10 years I was on the streets—mostly Depo-Provera shots which I got at the Planned Parenthood and other neighborhood clinics. I also got the morning-after pill from them.

Among the report’s recommendations to medical professions are to urgently “be made aware of critical signals for identifying trafficking victims.” Healthcare professionals need to be trained to “understand the coercive dynamic of trafficking, especially the extreme degree of control exercised by traffickers, and the prevalence of this criminal exploitation of women and girls.”

Abortion and sex trafficking

When trafficked women do get pregnant, many suffer forced abortions as a vicious follow-up measure of birth control. “Part of my story is that I was forced to have an abortion at 16,” Connie Rose told me. “It was a late-term abortion” at eight months gestation, and “a lot of my friends also had‌ abortions‌, too,” she said, “as a means of birth control.”

“Some of it was controlled by their trafficker; some was by choice [of the trafficked woman] because the last thing they were going to do was let a trafficker have their child.” She added that the fallout of abortion is “not‌ ‌just‌ ‌mental‌ ‌side‌ ‌of‌ ‌it,‌ ‌but‌ ‌what‌ ‌it‌ ‌is doing‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌body‌ ‌physically‌.”‌

Later in her advocacy work, Rose also helped a trafficked woman whose trafficker “beat her up” when she was pregnant, “so‌ ‌she‌ ‌would‌ ‌just‌ ‌naturally‌ ‌abort‌. I’m‌ ‌sure‌ ‌she’s‌ ‌not‌ ‌the‌ ‌only‌ ‌one‌,” she told me. ‌

Sadly, forced abortion, and abortion under the oppressive context of sex trafficking, are very common for women and girls trafficked into prostitution. Lederer’s 2015 report found “more than half (55.2%) of the sixty-seven respondents who answered reported at least one abortion, with twenty respondents (29.9%) reporting multiple abortions.”

The report further explains, “While only thirty-four respondents answered the question whether their abortions were of their own volition or forced upon them, more than half (eighteen) of that group indicated that one or more of their abortions was at least partly forced upon them.”

Numbers like this make it unsurprising that the anti-abortion group Live Action revealed in undercover investigative videos of Planned Parenthood that abortion providers were ready to offer no-questions-asked abortion services to girls and women who identified as minors with pimp-like figures in their clinics. While protocol insists that people who appear trafficked should be connected with authorities and abuse-recovery services, these videos echo what many survivors say in their testimonies—that abortion clinics often provide the requested services without question, and then send them on their way.

Better ways forward for the reproductive health, empowerment, and protection of girls and women

While abuses against women are not entirely due to birth control, birth control is a constant that makes these sexual abuses easier to take place, and easier to keep under wraps. When a 14-year-old gets pregnant, for instance, that can be an obvious sign that statutory rape has happened (and may, in fact, be continuing to happen). When a 14-year-old is on birth control, that kind of abuse can go on much longer before people see the signs.

While abuses against women are not entirely due to birth control, birth control is a constant that makes these sexual abuses easier to take place, and easier to keep under wraps.

Even from women who are not sex trafficked, I hear echoes in social media groups of the pressure many women today feel to be “constantly available sexually” for their partners in order to have relationship security. Nonstop sexual activity separated from procreation isn’t sustainable without birth control, and this outlook is creating sex drives that are not naturally sustainable. It can foster difficulty down the road in maintaining self-control when sex is not available for completely human reasons, such as when a partner isn’t well, has surgery, is bereaved, or is postpartum—times when love should be expressed in different ways. And it gives women the impression they are not valuable for simply being themselves, but for their utility to be used by others for pleasure, which is to reduce their value to that of an object.

To use women as objects dehumanizes them, and a part of what makes women human is our reproductive capabilities. As a result, we should consider no-questions-asked birth control services for women and girls with some amount of skepticism and apprehension. If we don’t work harder as a society to identify the controlling of women and girls in sex trafficking, we may ignorantly participate in the perpetuation of abuse, and birth control can be just another form of exploitative control.

Women who use modern fertility awareness methods instead of birth control say they feel more in the driver’s seat of their reproductive health, and they are more able to read their body’s signs and understand their health and fertility. As a result, women who have switched from birth control to fertility awareness methods express feelings of being more in tune with their bodies, greater self-agency in sexual relations, and a greater sense of equality between partners.

When teen girls are taught fertility awareness, there is evidence that it helps reduce at-risk behavior. As Anna Migeon shared in her impactful article on “Cycle Mindfulness:

In the 1980s, Leslie Carol Botha taught basic fertility awareness charting to teen girls (13-17 year-olds) at eight different restorative care homes for at-risk girls. A typical girl in the program had been a victim of sexual assault, ran away from home, used drugs and alcohol, and ended up in jail. In working with these girls, Ms. Botha made an amazing discovery: teens who are taught fertility awareness and how to chart their cycles can regain control of their lives.

Here is what she found out: for 90% of the girls in the program who had ended up in jail, it happened during the premenstrual phase of her cycle, that monthly darkness that Ms. Botha calls “falling down the rabbit hole:” increased anger, disruptive and self-destructive behaviors, suicidal ideation, and drug and alcohol cravings.

The good news is there is accessible and age-appropriate, dignified reproductive health education that can teach teens this important body literacy.

While fertility awareness is not a quick fix for the exploitation and complex problems caused by sex trafficking, educating girls and women about their bodies and reproductive health can assist them in achieving greater self-knowledge, agency, and healing, no matter where they are on their journeys.

Called to the Joy of Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

The document “Called to the Joy of Love: National Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry” was developed by the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved by the USCCB at its June 2021 Plenary Assembly.  The framework is intended to assist dioceses as local pastoral planning and implementation continue to take place since the publication of the 2016 apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. It provides guidelines for the pastoral accompaniment of married couples and families in every phase of life, drawing upon the teachings and recommendations contained in the apostolic exhortation.

See the digital edition of the pastoral framework here

7-685 Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life, FINAL, for UPLOAD.pdf (usccb.org)

New Ohio ‘2363 Act’ will protect preborn children from abortion at fertilization

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A new bill introduced by Ohio State Rep. Jena Powell aims to reduce the number of abortions in the United States from 2,363 each day to zero. The 2363 Act would ban abortion in Ohio, except in the rare situation where a mother’s life is at grave risk (see more here on why abortion is never truly medically necessary). Like the Heartbeat Act in Texas, citizens would be able to sue an abortionist for violating the law by committing an abortion, while the bill would exempt women undergoing abortions from legal repercussions.

Powell spoke with Live Action News in an exclusive interview about the legislation.

“The 2363 Act is… based off of the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, but we’ve made a couple of changes,” explained Powell. “This bill uses the enforcement language by the Texas Heartbeat Act, which has been upheld by the 5th Circuit Court. We stated AlabamaLouisiana, Arkansas, and Utah as having recently passed similar pieces of legislation.”

The 2363 Act is one in which Powell has a personal investment, due to her upbringing and her passionately held pro-life beliefs.

“As a woman legislator in our state, I believe it is crucial that we move forward on pro-life issues,” she said. “I’m very, very passionate; I’m actually one of seven children. I’ve grown up in a household that protects life, and understands that abortion is wrong. And so for me, being in the legislature, it was exciting to start working on crucial pieces of legislation. We already passed the heartbeat bill in my first term, and that said that at the time we can see a heartbeat, that child deserves life, and to be protected; that’s currently being held up in the courts, but what I realized was, if we believe life begins at fertilization, then we have to continue moving the ball forward in protecting every life.”

Powell is also doing more than just passing legislation to defend life. She’s founded the Ohio Pro-Life Caucus, which aims to take pro-life activism even further. Powell and the Pro-Life Caucus believe in taking a dual approach to ending abortion, both through enacting pro-life legislation and offering increased support to women, children, and families.

“We have a lot of pro-life members in our state,” she said. “In Ohio, we’re trying to pull together as many conservative Republicans that believe in life, or members [who] holistically believe in the pro-life movement. We’ve sent out a co-sponsorship request, and we’re really moving forward on the bill. The goal of the pro-life caucus is to inform and educate members, as well as help them move forward the narrative and policies to protect every single life in the state of Ohio. We have bills that we’re working towards in the caucus between members — everything from eradicating abortion holistically, to protecting and preserving life, to helping pregnancy resource centers, to helping hurting mothers and families in our state. So, we’re kind of looking at a two-pronged approach, and saying, all right, let’s end abortion in our state, and let’s also move forward and help women, help children, and take steps to eradicate abortion as well.”

Despite support for pro-life bills across the country, the abortion industry continues to go on the attack against them. One common argument is that pro-life legislators are only concerned with protecting children before birth, which Powell said was “categorically untrue.”

“The state of Ohio gives tons of money to women, families, and children in our state. We continue to support pregnancy resource centers, we provide a lot of opportunities, whether it’s struggling mothers or young children, in our state,” she said. “Data would show us that those claims are untrue. And I understand why the pro-abortion movement wants to say that. But at the end of the day, the stats, the data, the knowledge, is on our side.”

Powell currently has 33 co-sponsors and one joint sponsor for the 2363 Act, noting that she believes there is “an appetite to protect and support life in our state, specifically with everything that’s going on in the Supreme Court. Ohio is a pro-life state. My first general assembly, we passed the Heartbeat Bill, and our voters — there’s over 11 million Ohioans — were in huge support of that bill, and were very thrilled that we moved forward on it. Ohio is a more conservative state for sure, and Ohioans see that we not only support mothers and children, but also we’re looking to protect life in the process.”

Live Action president and founder Lila Rose noted in a press release:

Abortion is our nation’s leading cause of death, killing more people than heart disease, cancer, or COVID-19. This gruesome truth echoes throughout the 2363 campaign, pleading with our national conscience that action must be taken on behalf of the most vulnerable. The science is crystal clear – human life begins at the moment of fertilization – not at birth, not at 15 weeks gestation, not even at 6 weeks when a preborn child’s heartbeat can be first detected. Every single preborn child deserves protection and no child should be discriminated against based on race, gender, medical diagnosis, or age.

The 2363 Act ensures that no child will be left behind to face the abandonment and violence of abortion.  We must be absolutely fearless in our efforts to protect these children as well as their mothers and families from the predatory abortion industry. The 2363 Act is the beginning of the end of legally sanctioned abortions in America.

Altogether, Powell expects great things in the future for the pro-life movement in Ohio, which will have a positive effect for residents throughout the state.

“We’re just really excited,” she said. “Ohio did not have a pro-life caucus, and so we’re excited to move forward holistically on helping women and children in the state of Ohio. We know abortion does not help women. There are so many resources for women and children, and men, because we know abortion harms everyone. It’s not just a female issue.”

The Prescriptive Norm of Humanae Vitae

By Adolfo J. Castañeda

Once he has established some fundamental principles, St. Paul VI proceeds to evaluate, from the moral perspective, the problem of contraception within the context of conjugal love and the transmission of human life. First, he affirms this moral norm in its positive sense or its prescriptive dimension, i.e., what must be done. The term “prescriptive” simply means “to prescribe,” to command the performance of a certain action (like “feed the poor” or “clothe the naked”).

Later, the Pope affirms the moral norm in its negative sense or its prohibitive dimension, i.e., what must be avoided. The term “prohibitive” simply means to prohibit, to forbid the commission of some evil action (like abortion or contraception).

In the positive sense, Humanae Vitae commands that in the conjugal act, husband and wife remain open to the possibility of transmitting human life: “The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” (11).

Must new life come from every conjugal act?

This norm does not at all mean that a new life must ensue from every conjugal act. As a matter of fact, such an occurrence is biologically impossible, as St. Paul VI himself recognizes. In addition, the Pope teaches that the spouses do not commit any sin when they engage in a conjugal act that they foresee to be infertile through no fault of their own. Even in such cases, the Holy Father calls the conjugal act itself “chaste, noble and worthy” when husband and wife truly love each other and are not closed to the possibility of transmitting a new human life:

The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent II Vatican Council recalled, “noble and worthy.” It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. (11, emphasis added)

 

What Then Does Humanae Vitae Command?

The positive norm of Humanae Vitae consists in commanding the spouses to always respect the inseparable connection between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning of the conjugal act:

This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning which are both inherent to the marriage act. (12)

However, respect for the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings implies a lot more than just abstaining from contraception. Recall that in Humanae Vitae 9 St. Paul VI explained the four characteristics of conjugal love: fully human, total, faithful and exclusive, and fecund. The spouses are called to grow in all of these values and in their love for each other. Each spouse is called to always see his beloved as a gift from God, as end in himself or herself, as a person, and not as an object for selfish pleasure. True conjugal love requires that the husband sees himself as a gift from God to his wife and at the same time to welcome his wife as a gift from God. Likewise, the wife must see herself as a gift from God to her husband and at the same time to welcome her husband as a gift from God. In the words of the Holy Father himself: “Whoever really loves his spouse loves not only for what he receives, but loves that spouse for the spouse’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself” (9, emphasis added).

The Wedding Register – Edmund Blair

This dynamic of love as self-gift, together with the practice of self-control, enables the spouses to acquire and practice those virtues that enrich conjugal life and the conjugal act itself: sincerity, honesty, tenderness, affection, and solicitude, among many others.

 

Openness to Life

Recall that one of the characteristics of true conjugal love is its inherent openness to the transmission of new life. If the spouses truly love each other and avoid contraception, they will be able to develop a deep love for the transmission of life and for their children when God decides to give them this precious gift. Pope Paul VI teaches us that the value of self-control or self-discipline also enables the spouses to

fully recognize and value the true blessings of family life…and confers upon them as parents a deeper and more effective influence in the education of their children. As their children grow up, they develop a right sense of values and achieve a serene and harmonious use of their mental and physical powers. (21).

 

Why must the spouses always respect this inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of marriage?

The answer to this question is astonishing simple: because the nature of true conjugal love demands it. Recall that one of the characteristics of conjugal love is its fertility. The Holy Father explains that true conjugal is inherently open to the possibility of transmitting human life. A conjugal love that deliberately closes itself to life is no love at all; it is a lifeless “love.” As the Holy Father writes of true conjugal love:

This love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.

If the spouses, through contraception, destroy their sexual act’s capacity to transmit life, they are not only violating the procreative meaning of the conjugal act, but also its unitive meaning. Contraception is not only anti-life; it is also anti-love.

Let us also recall that another characteristic of conjugal love is that conjugal love is total. It encompasses the whole person. Husband and wife give themselves to each other completely in their conjugal act, leaving nothing out. But if they contracept, then they are leaving out their fertility and not giving themselves completely. Therefore, once again, contraception is contrary to conjugal love and not only to procreation.

 

The Prohibitive Norm of Humanae Vitae

The prohibitive norm of Humanae Vitae is that nobody may ever deliberately break the inseparable connection between the procreative and unitive meanings of the conjugal act by means of contraception, anti-natural uses of the sexual act (such as sodomy or coitus interruptus), sterilization, or abortion. In the words of St. Paul VI:

Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.  Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means (14).

It is clear from this passage that not only direct abortion and direct sterilization are absolutely prohibited, but also all kinds of contraceptives, whether barrier contraceptives, hormonal contraceptives (which are also abortifacients), or mechanical contraceptives (such IUDs, which are also abortifacients).

 

Why Is Contraception “Intrinsically and Gravely Evil”?

The act of contraception always violates the intrinsic goods of marriage and of the conjugal act: the unitive and the procreative. Therefore, it is intrinsically evil. Since the goods that contraception violates are at the same time values of great importance (love and life), contraception is also gravely evil. This means that no circumstance or motive can ever justify it. The norm that prohibits contraception in all its forms is an absolute norm, i.e., it admits of no exception.

In addition, if we consider the teachings of St. John Paul II on the theology of the body, we will discover that contraception is also anti-sacrament. The sign of the sacrament of marriage is comprised of (1) the vows that bride and groom exchange during their wedding, and (2) the conjugal act that expresses those vows through the language of the body. The true language of the body, in the case of marriage, includes the conjugal acts that physically express the sign expressed in the words (the marital vows) of the sacrament of marriage. Furthermore, it is clear that the sign of the sacrament of marriage includes the unitive and procreative meanings  that God has inscribed in the souls and bodies of husbands and wives, because those meanings are included in the marital vows in one way or another.

But contraception goes against both of those meanings, the unitive and procreative. Therefore, it is a counter-sign, an anti-sacrament.

Wedding of Mary and Joseph - United States public domain where where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or fewer

Wedding of Mary and Joseph – Artist Unknown

 

Is Contraception a Mortal Sin?

When the spouses possess full knowledge that contraception is an intrinsically and gravely evil act but nevertheless freely and fully will it, they commit a mortal sin. They cannot receive Holy Communion nor enter Heaven upon their deaths.

But if they put their trust in our all-merciful God, repent, promise to amend their lives, go to confession and fulfill the penance imposed by the confessor, they will be filled with God’s infinite mercy and love. They can and should receive Holy Communion and the strength it provides to live righteously and to love God and neighbor. God will heal their lives and lead them to a life of holiness and happiness.

 

An Objective or Subjective Argument?

It may seem that this whole discussion against contraception is based on subjective arguments because the Holy Father appeals to the subjective characteristics of conjugal love: fully human, total, faithful and exclusive, and fecund.

But we must clarify that we are discussing marriage morality not only from a subjective perspective on the values of conjugal love. We are also discussing marriage morality from an objective perspective. The same values that characterize true conjugal love are at the same time objective goods that God has inscribe in the very beings of the spouses and that they must respect and develop. The spouses who truly love each other and are faithful to God through His Church internalize these objective goods, making them their own. Once the spouses have accepted these goods in their hearts, the goods become values that the spouses cherish and develop so that their love for each other and for their children grows and flourishes.

A value is the internal experience of an objective good. The principal objective goods of marriage (conjugal love, the procreation and education of children, and the sacramental sign) ought to be interiorized and personalized by the spouses, and so become values.

In this way, spouses render justice to the objective and subjective dimensions of conjugal morality and of the whole spectrum of Catholic morality. The objective goods that God’s commandments protect become the interior values that propel good Catholics to act. God’s commandments are no longer seen as “external rules” but as guarantors of that happy life (here and beyond) that the goods protected by the commandments make possible.

Finally, it should be clear that by “subjective” we do not mean at all subjectivism. These two are completely different. In fact, they are opposites of each other. Subjective values correspond to the interiorization of objective goods, while subjectivism is an ideology whose adherents believe that their inner feelings, no matter how wicked, are true for them, even if they are not true for others. Subjectivism leads to relativism and relativism destroys morality completely, because relativism leads to the erroneous belief that morality is subjective and individualistic, and that objective and universal moral norms do not exist.

 

 

Male Contraceptive Trials

The medical device company Contraline has invented a new male contraceptive. Using advancements in hydrogel technology the company developed a device called ADAM™ .

The device is implanted into the vas deferens through an outpatient procedure. The hydrogel works by blocking the vas deferens preventing sperm from traveling through.

This device is similar to intrauterine devices (IUDs) for women, and it is designed to last for years and be reversible. Contraline initiates its first-in-human clinical trial in 2021.

Although, the company emphasizes that the  hydrogel  is easily injectable, safe, and long-lasting, the moral  aspects and problems to the conscience of married people are ignored.

Humane Vitae tell us “Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed.”

“The question of human procreation, like every other question which touches human life, involves more than the limited aspects specific to such disciplines as biology, psychology, demography or sociology. It is the whole man and the whole mission to which he is called that must be considered: both its natural, earthly aspects and its supernatural, eternal aspects. ”

 

Ohio city of Mason becomes 41st ‘sanctuary city for the unborn’ in the US

 

On Monday, the City of Mason, Ohio (pop. 35,450), became the 41st city in the nation and the second city in Ohio to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits. The second and final reading vote passed 4-3 in the packed city council chambers.

Mayor Kathy Grossmann was joined by council members T.J. Honerlaw, Mike Gilb, and Tony Bradburn in favor of the ordinance outlawing abortion, while council members Ashley Chance, Diana Nelson, and Josh Styrcula voted against the measure. While the ordinance passed by a majority vote, the ordinance did not receive the five votes required to go into immediate effect. This means that the ordinance will go into effect on November 24th, which will be 30 days after Monday’s vote.

Mark Harrington, president of Created Equal, was one of the many pro-life leaders present for the historic meeting. Harrington shared, “Joe Biden has stated he wants abortion in every zip code in America. Hence, citizens across America are acting by preventing abortion from being committed in their communities. Ohio is once again taking the lead to protect children and more cities are joining this movement every week!”

Mason is the 24th city to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion since the Biden Administration stated their commitment to see abortion access in every zip code in January of this year.

The first to introduce the ordinance to be placed on the agenda was Councilman T.J. Honerlaw. Upon the passage of the ordinance, Honerlaw shared, “Passing the sanctuary city for the unborn ordinance is my greatest accomplishment while serving my first term on Mason City Council. It’s been an honor to work with my pro-life colleagues to keep abortion out of Mason, Ohio.”

Vice-Mayor Mike Gilb also stood confident in his decision, knowing that it was what his constituents placed him there to do. “I’m here to protect life. For me it’s a fundamental issue . . . I’m not just here to decide how bright the street lights should be or where the next roundabout goes. Those things are certainly important issues, but they’re not as fundamental as protecting life.”

For the four outspoken and passionate members on the council who were for the ordinance, there were three outspoken and passionate members on the council who were against the ordinance. The most outspoken on the council against the ordinance was Councilwoman Diana Nelson, who appeared to affirm that women had a constitutional right to an abortion.

Nelson shared, “The Supreme Court has made a ruling on abortion, regardless of one’s opinion on abortion; creating local laws that contradict with federal laws is illegal and unconstitutional.” Nelson continued, “When local leaders begin enacting laws which are in violation of our resident’s constitutional rights we have a much larger problem.”

Mayor Kathy Grossmann pushed back on Councilwoman Diana Nelson’s claim that they, as elected officials, were entertaining a piece of legislation which contradicted the Constitution, any federal laws, or any Supreme Court ruling. Grossman shared that based on statements from attorneys, the ordinance is consistent with the Constitution, all state and federal laws, and worked within Supreme Court rulings. Grossman asked Vice Mayor Mike Gilb, who is a local attorney, his assessment on the matter. Vice Mayor Gilb shared, “From my review of the ordinance I certainly understand it to be not in conflict with Roe v. Wade and constitutional in the way it is presented.”

Mason, Ohio (Photo: Mark Lee Dickson)

The Mason Ordinance Outlawing Abortion states, “The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), which invented a constitutional right for pregnant women to kill their unborn children through abortion, is a lawless and unconstitutional act of judicial usurpation, as there is no language anywhere in the Constitution that even remotely suggests that abortion is a constitutional right.” The ordinance goes on to say, “Constitutional scholars have excoriated Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), for its lack of reasoning and its decision to concoct a constitutional right to abortion that has no textual foundation in the Constitution or any source of law.”

Even though these strong statements are made in the findings section of the ordinance, the Mason Ohio Ordinance does not go against Roe v. Wade (1973), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) or any Supreme Court ruling, but works within those rulings and current federal and state laws to go as far it can go to prohibit and restrict abortion access under the confines of the undue burden standard which was set by the United States Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).

The Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance for Mason, Ohio, does not prevent pregnant mothers in Mason from getting an abortion outside of the city limits. All the ordinance does is prevent a pregnant mother from obtaining an abortion within the city limits. Mayor Grossmann argued this point repeatedly throughout the council meetings, stressing that the ordinance simply preserves the status quo by keeping abortion out of the city limits of Mason.

While Councilwoman Nelson raised concern that the passage of the ordinance would open the City of Mason up for lawsuits, no lawsuit has been successful against the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn movement. In February of 2020, the ACLU sued seven cities in East Texas which had outlawed abortion. After three months, the ACLU withdrew their lawsuit and, to this day, abortion remains banned in each city which was sued. In May 2021, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the City of Lubbock for outlawing abortion within the city. Before the month was up, Planned Parenthood lost their lawsuit. Due to the ordinance going into effect, Planned Parenthood stopped performing abortions in Lubbock on June 1, and is currently not performing abortions in Lubbock.

If the City of Mason is sued, attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former Solicitor General of the State of Texas and the legal mind behind the enforcement mechanism of the Texas Heartbeat Law, has agreed to represent the city at no cost to the city and taxpayers.

The Mason Ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the city of Mason, Ohio,” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the city of Mason, Ohio.” Abortion is defined by the ordinance as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.” The Ordinance is also clear that the act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child” or to “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage” or to “remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

There is one other exception listed in the ordinance and that is a very narrow exception for cases where the mother’s life is at risk. This is listed as an affirmative defense and falls upon the one performing the abortion to provide that defense if necessary. This is outlined by the ordinance as abortions in cases where the abortion is “in response to a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

Besides outlawing abortion, the Mason Ordinance declares abortion-inducing drugs to be contraband, stating, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the Mason, Ohio, and it shall be unlawful for any person to mail or ship abortion-inducing drugs into the city of Mason, Ohio.” Abortion-inducing drugs are defined as “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.”

Many of the opposition in attendance attempted to attack the ordinance for this section, arguing that these drugs had other uses. However, the ordinance is clear that “the term also does not include drugs or medication that are possessed or distributed for a purpose that does not include the termination of a pregnancy.”

According to the ordinance, those who are found in violation are guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree and, under Ohio law, are not to serve more than six months in jail or pay more than $1,000 in fines. This prosecution or penalty contains only one exception: “Under no circumstance may the penalty be imposed on the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, or the pregnant woman who seeks to abort her unborn child, be subject to prosecution or penalty under this section.” The implementation of these penalties are not dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade or any other court ruling, but are immediately enforceable.

It is not likely that Mason, Ohio, will be the last city in Ohio to outlaw abortion. On the same night of Mason’s vote, the City of Celina (population 10,687) also discussed an ordinance outlawing abortion. The City of London, Ohio (pop. 10,436), is also considering a similar ordinance.

Ohio State Representative Jena Powell shared, “What a great day in Mason! Thrilled to see that Mason is now a sanctuary city for the unborn. I’m excited to see more cities across our state and nation fight to protect the unborn. It’s crucial that every child is protected in the state of Ohio, and this is a huge step in the right direction.”

The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative encourages all who wish to see abortion outlawed in their city, regardless of what city or state they live in, to sign the online petition on the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn website.

Mark Lee Dickson is a Director with Right to Life of East Texas, a Pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

UNICEF endorses ‘sexual autonomy’ for children

Hormonal Contraception and Violent Death

A recent article published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neurosciences evaluated the effects of the use of hormonal contraceptives upon the behaviors of intimate partners.  The study of the physiology of women using hormonal contraceptives has provided insight into the possible basis for the resulting increase in violent death. The author of this review investigated the changes that are potential contributors to the reported increase in violent death by suicide, accident, or homicide.

It has been demonstrated that hormonal contraceptive use affects the behaviors of both female and male partners which can cause changes in mate retention behaviors. These changes in mate retention behaviors could lead to intimate partner violence and death.  The review also analyzed how hormonal contraception modify brain structure and function.

The authors conclude: “there is a great need for further research concerning brain function and structure relating to exposure to hormonal contraceptives, especially since these drugs are often given to young women whose brains are not fully matured. Through the use of physician screening and patient education, the incidence of violent death can potentially be mitigated. It cannot be denied that millions of women are potentially affected adversely by hormonal contraception and its potential link to increased suicide, intimate partner violence, induced abortion, and worsening of BPD traits, such as substance abuse and risk- taking”.

See article here

 

 

Venous Thrombotic Events, Hormonal Contraception, and FABMs: A Review of Research

By Natalie Gould, DO

https://www.factsaboutfertility.org/venous-thrombotic-events-hormonal-contraception-and-fabms-a-review-of-research/

Editor’s Note: This year, October 13th is World Thrombosis Day, which provides an opportunity to raise awareness about this potentially life-threatening medical condition or complication. The 2018 research summarized below is titled, “Systematic Review of Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Venous Thrombosis.” The study was published by Keenan et al in 2018 and won the 2019 Linacre Award for outstanding research paper of the year. The researchers reviewed the literature assessing the risk of venous thrombotic events in women who choose hormonal contraception. Dr. Natalie Gould’s summary of this important study ends by discussing fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) as a reasonable, safe, and effective option for women who need or prefer a different approach for pregnancy prevention, health monitoring, and/or to diagnose and manage a variety of women’s health conditions.

A Personal Story

It was just a few days after Christmas and we were sitting outside, sharing our shock in silence. Reunited with our college friends, we should have been happy — happy to see one another, enjoying the joyful nature of the season, and sharing adventure stories from our young lives. Instead, most of us were quiet and tearful, having just attended our friend’s memorial service. Despite her youth, she collapsed suddenly due to massive pulmonary emboli — blood clots within her lungs. 

She had been on hormonal contraception … and many of us had been or were on hormonal contraception too… While grieving, we wondered, could this happen to me too? Why had our doctors never discussed this possible deadly side effect with any of us? 

Years later, I am in medical school, where the risk of venous thromboembolism (VT) has hardly been mentioned as a potential side effect of hormonal contraception. If it is mentioned, it is touted as a rare occurrence. While this may be so, it is in our best interest as medical professionals to discuss all potential side effects with our patients so they have true informed consent and the highest sovereignty over choices affecting their bodies. Hormonal contraception is often used as a first line therapy for women’s health issues beyond pregnancy prevention. Women have the right to know all the evidence about these medications before choosing to take them. 

In the 2018 study titled, “Systematic Review of Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Venous Thrombosis,” Keenan et al reported the significant increased risk of venous thromboembolism in healthy young women using hormonal birth control. This is a review of their findings.

Introduction

Hormonal contraception (HC) continues to have high prevalence use worldwide, with over 80 percent of women in the U.S. alone reporting use of some form of HC at some point during their reproductive years. Despite the widespread use, the safety of HC is primarily determined through observation and case control trials due to ethical concerns of having women who are trying to avoid pregnancy take a placebo. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) practices have changed drastically in the last twenty years, since data surfaced showing increased cardiovascular risks with HRT, so that their benefit does not outweigh the potential harm. Despite these findings, HC doses are often given in five to ten times the dose of HRT.

In medicine and bioethics, informed consent is paramount. The intent of the research by Keenan et al was to look at broad safety data of hormonal contraception and evaluate for potential increased risk for venous thromboembolism, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), and central venous thrombosis (CVT) in healthy female populations of reproductive age.

Methods

A PubMed search was performed for all relevant publications from inception through April 2018. The following inclusion criteria were used: all articles evaluating risk of any form of HC for first VT in healthy women. Articles had to have a nonuser comparison group and VT confirmed with either imaging study or strong clinical diagnosis with minimum four weeks anticoagulation. Studies had to report relative risk (RR) or odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Type of HC used must have been identified, including the generation of oral contraceptives.

Results

Of the studies reviewed (n=15), 12 were case control studies ranging in size from 36 to 1,524 cases, and 3 were cohort studies ranging in size from 8 to 17.2 million-women-years of observation. All the studies showed an increased risk of VT in women using HC compared to their controls, with the exception of users of the levonorgestrel-releasing IUD. Interestingly, a few studies showed that risk generally decreased with longer use time, with the first year of use demonstrating the greatest risk.

Obesity was also shown to be associated with higher risk of VT in patients using HC. In one study, women taking second generation HC had significantly higher risk, with a sixfold increase in risk if body mass index (BMI) was greater than 30.

This review demonstrated that users of second and third generation HC have significantly increased risk of death due to a fatal pulmonary embolus. A Swedish study demonstrated significant risk of death in women aged 15 to 24 when reviewing the death registry.

Overall, risk was increased for users of all generations of HC, with use of fourth generation HC being greater than third, and third generation greater than second. Use of transdermal patch and hormonal vaginal rings was associated with significant increased risk of VT. Finally, the progestin-only implant was not shown to increase risk, and the levonorgestrel IUD showed decreased risk.

Discussion

This review article set out to explore whether users of HC have a significantly increased risk of confirmed venous thrombotic events when compared to nonusers. The studies reviewed demonstrate that, indeed, users of HC have a three- to ninefold increased risk of confirmed VT. The study reports that HC can therefore be estimated to cause 300-400 young healthy women to die each year because of their contraceptive choices.

 

The authors go on to say that this risk is often justified in the studies reviewed by noting the risks of pregnancy. Yet, the reviewers point out that the absence of HC use is not equivalent to pregnancy, and the studies fail to discuss options that would not expose these healthy women to the potential harmful side effects to which HC exposes them. 

This raises an important issue: are women being adequately informed of the potential risks of their contraceptive choices? Birth control has long been viewed as a positive development for women, and while the benefits are shouted from the rooftops, should we not also be willing to explore their potential harm?

 

The possibility of venous thrombotic events due to HC use is often under-reported and appears to be overlooked by the general public. Although medication safety is usually determined through the gold standard of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), it is not possible to study HC with RCTs, as giving women placebo could lead to unintended pregnancy. Thus, it is imperative to consider studies such as this review to understand the risks of HC and to properly counsel patients on their contraceptive choices so they have full informed consent.

A Reasonable, Safe Alternative

The study authors point out that several fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) of family planning demonstrate typical use rates comparable to those of oral contraceptives. These FABMs have no medical side effects, making the potential harm of VT avoidable if these options are presented to women alongside HC options. They go on to suggest further research to follow a large cohort of women using FABMs compared to a cohort of women using HC to evaluate health outcomes of each choice.

Many women do not think of HC choices as potentially harmful, and many are not counseled on the increased risk of VT. As it relates to HC, for women to have full sovereignty over their bodies and provide true informed consent, physicians must be aware of these risks and personalize counseling.

Death due to VT may seem like a rare possibility, but when it is your best friend, your wife, your daughter, or you, it matters. It’s no longer rare; it’s real.

FABMs are often not presented to women as a viable option for pregnancy prevention. If more physicians were educated about these options, perhaps we would not have to ignore or accept the risk of losing 300-400 healthy young women — women like my friend — each year. 

FABMs empower women with knowledge of whether or not their bodies are healthy. They can also help identify the root causes of women’s health problems that are often merely masked by HC use. This would decrease medical use of HC for reasons other than contraception.

This brings up the painful, yet important question we must consider: what would have happened if, years ago, my friend’s doctor presented an FABM as an option to her?

References

Keenan L, Kerr T, Duane M, Van Gundy K. Systematic Review of Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Venous Thrombosis. Linacre Q. 2018;85(4):470-477. doi:10.1177/0024363918816683.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Natalie Gould, DO

Natalie Gould, DO is a first-year resident at Peak Vista Family Medicine Residency in Colorado Springs, CO. She wrote this review as a fourth-year medical student at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She participated in an FABM elective and is excited to continue her education regarding these important options for women for her future practice as a family physician. She believes all women should have access to FABMs and is excited to do her part to share this important information

 

 

Forced Sterilization

Prophetic words of Pope Saint Paul VI in his most famous encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

“The danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law…. Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.”

Forced sterilization is a reality: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=36286

The abortion industry wants to use climate change funding to expand abortion

A New Pro-Life Saint?

A New Pro-Life Saint? This Italian Mother Sacrificed Her Life for Her Unborn Baby| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

“Riccardo, you are a gift for us.” These are the words a 26-year-old Italian mother wrote to her newborn 26 years ago. They were words she was willing to live by – and die for.

On Aug. 30, Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin, who sacrificed her life for the sake of her baby. Catholics already are comparing her to another saint, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, because both women refused medical treatment that would have endangered their unborn babies, according to EWTN Pro-Life Weekly. After close examination, the Church now recognizes Maria Cristina as a “venerable” for leading a heroically virtuous life.

This is the story of that life.

Maria Cristina was born in 1969 in a town called Cinisello Balsamo, located in Milan. According to La Stampa, she grew up next to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joan Antida Thouret, and served as a catechist and youth leader. She strongly considered religious life while still a young teenager.

“Lord, show me the way: it doesn’t matter if you want me as a mother or a nun, what really matters is that I always do your will,” she wrote in her spiritual diary in 1985.

Her vocation became clear when, at 16 years old, she met Carlo Moccellin. She was called to marriage – a marriage with him. She never wavered from that conviction, even when doctors discovered a sarcoma in her left leg, Vatican News reported.

“I realized that everything is a gift, even a disease, because if lived in the best way it can really help to grow,” she wrote to Carlo in 1988.

She was successfully treated, and finished her high-school education before marrying Carlo in 1991. They soon welcomed two children into their home, Francesco and Lucia. They were expecting a third – Riccardo – when they found out that her cancer had returned.

Her first thought was of her unborn baby boy.

“My reaction was to say over and over: ‘I am pregnant! I am pregnant! But doctor I am pregnant,’” she wrote in a 1995 letter to her little Riccardo. “I fought with all my power and did not give up on the idea of giving birth to you, so much so that the doctor understood everything and said no more.”

Maria Cristina refused the chemotherapy treatments that would have threatened her unborn baby’s life. Instead, she waited until after Riccardo was born, in 1994. But at that point, the cancer had already spread to her lungs and caused her tremendous suffering.

“I believe that God would not allow pain if he did not want to obtain a secret and mysterious but [a] real good,” she wrote. “I believe that one day I will understand the meaning of my suffering and I will thank God for it.”

On Oct. 22, 1995, she died at 26 years old.

But her story – and her baby – live on. In her letter to Riccardo, which she penned a month before she died, she stressed the beauty of his life.

“Dear Riccardo, you need to know that you are not in the world by chance,” she began.

“The Lord wanted your birth despite all the problems there were… when we found out about you, we loved you and wanted you with all our heart.”

“It was that evening, in the car on the way back from the hospital, that you moved for the first time. It seemed as if you were saying, ‘Thank you mamma for loving me!’ And how could we not love you?” she added. “You are precious, and when I look at you and see you so beautiful, lively, friendly, I think that there is no suffering in the world that is not worth bearing for a child.”

Maria Cristina wrote regularly, and kept a spiritual journal, according to The Associazione Amici di Cristina (Friends of Cristina Association), which promotes the dignity of human life in honor of its namesake. The association’s website includes excerpts from her diary and from her letters.

“Lord I only want You! I only love you! I’m just looking for you!” the organization quotes her as saying. “What does it matter to suffer in life if you are around the corner waiting for me to give me immense joy?”

Joy appears repeatedly in her writings.

“It is my motto: ‘Do everything with joy!’” she stressed in a 1985 letter to Carlo. “Even if sometimes it costs me a lot, especially when my morale is low or when … ‘it seems to you that all things are against you …’ as you say, in your beautiful letter. But, as light comes after darkness, so, after despair, rediscover joy.”

This joy shaped her love of God and her love for Carlo.

“Don‘t you think it’s extraordinary?” Maria Cristina asked Carlo in 1987. “If it weren’t for you and I who love each other, the world would lack that something that no one else in our place could give.”

She also wrote of God’s love – and the call to perfection.

“I become holy to the extent that I empty myself of everything, I remove every impediment from my mind, heart and life to allow myself to be completely penetrated by the love of God,” she stressed to Carlo in 1990. “More concretely, it means living everyday life with great simplicity, in the family, in the study, in the relationship with you, Carlo. My place is in the simple and ‘routine.’”

In the simple, she found the miraculous. In the ordinary, she discovered the extraordinary.

The year that she died, she wrote in another letter that “Although my health is precarious… I AM HAPPY!” She concluded, “I am ashamed to ask the Lord for anything else, for us the miracle is already there: if He loves us and we love each other, nothing else matters.”

Why artificial birth control is sinful…

Why artificial birth control is sinful (tldm.org)

“The encyclical of Pope Paul VI on birth control is true and must be followed by mankind. There shall be no rationalization of sin.” – Our Lady of the Roses, October 2, 1976

Dietrich von Hildebrand, called by Pope Pius XII “the 20th Century Doctor of the Church,” was one of the world’s most eminent Catholic philosophers. Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) wrote about Dietrich von Hildebrand in the year 2000: “I am firmly convinced that, when at some time in the future, the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time.”  No other Catholic writer has so thoroughly echoed the message of Our Lady of the Roses than Dietrich von Hildebrand.  The following is an excerpt from his essay, 

The Encyclical Humanae Vitae: A Sign of Contradiction:

We can now see more clearly the difference between natural and artificial birth control. The sinfulness of artificial birth control is rooted in the arrogation of the right to separate the actualized love union in marriage from a possible conception, to sever the wonderful, deeply mysterious connection instituted by God. This mystery is approached in an irreverent attitude. We are here confronted with the fundamental sin of irreverence toward God, the denial of our creaturehood, the acting as if we were our own lords. This is a basic denial of the religio, of our being bound to God; it is a disrespect for the mysteries of God’s creation, and its sinfulness increases with the rank of the mystery in question. It is the same sinfulness that lies in suicide or in euthanasia, in both of which we act as if we were masters of life.

Every active intervention of the spouses that eliminates the possibility of conception through the conjugal act is incompatible with the holy mystery of the superabundant relation in this incredible gift of God. And this irreverence also affects the purity of the conjugal act, because the union can be the real fulfillment of love only when it is approached with reverence and when it is embedded in the religio, the consciousness of our basic bond to God.

To the sublime link between marriage and procreation Christ’s words on the marriage bond also apply: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” This becomes still clearer when we consider that the mystery of the birth of a man not only should be essentially linked to wedded love (through the conjugal act, which is destined to be the expression and fulfill­ment of this love), but is always linked to a creative intervention of God. Neither wedded love nor, still less, the physiological process of conception is itself capable of creating a human being with an immortal soul. On this point Pope Paul VI quotes the encyclical Mater et Magistra: ” ‘Human life is holy,’ Pope John XXIII reminds us, ‘and from conception on it demands the imme­diate intervention of God!'” (Humanae Vitae,13). Man always comes forth directly from the hand of God, and therefore there is a unique and intimate relation between God and the spouses in the act of procreation. In a fruitful conjugal act we can say that the spouses participate in God’s act of creation; the conjugal act of the spouses is incorporated into the creative act of God and acquires a serving function in relation to His act.

We thus see that artificial birth control is sinful not only because it severs the mysterious link between the most intimate love union and the coming into existence of a new human being, but also because in a certain way it artificially cuts off the creative intervention of God, or better still, it artificially separates an act which is ordained toward co-operation with the creative act of God from this its destiny. For, as Paul VI says, this is to consider oneself not a servant of God, but the “Lord over the origin of human life” (Humanae Vitae, 13).

This irreverence, however, is exclusively limited to active intervention severing the conjugal act from its possible link with procreation.

The conjugal act does not in any way lose its full meaning and value when one knows that a conception is out of the question, as when age, or an operation for the sake of health, or pregnancy excludes it. The knowledge that a conception is not possible does not in the least taint the conjugal act with irreverence. In such cases, if the act is an expression of a deep love, anchored in Christ, it will rank even higher in its quality and purity than one that leads to a conception in a marriage in which the love is less deep and not formed by Christ. And even when for good and valid reasons conception should be avoided, the marital act in no way loses its raison d’être, because its meaning and value is the actualization of the mutual self-donation of the spouses. The intention of avoiding conception does not imply irreverence as long as one does not actively interfere in order to cut the link between the conjugal act and a possible conception.

Nor is the practice of rhythm to avoid conception in any way irreverent, because the existence of rhythm—that is to say, the fact that conception is limited to a short period—is itself a God-given institution. In Section 6 we shall show in greater detail why the use of rhythm implies not the slightest irreverence or rebellion against God’s institution of the wonderful link between the love union and procreation; it is in no way a subterfuge, as some Catholics tend to believe. On the contrary, it is a grateful accep­tance of the possibility God has granted of avoiding conception—if this is legitimately desirable—without preventing the expression and fulfillment of spousal love in the bodily union.

France to offer free and anonymous contraception for women under 25

Jeanne
Smits,

PARIS (LifeSiteNews) — Earlier this month, French health minister Olivier Véran proudly proclaimed that as of January 1, 2022, contraception will be 100 percent “free” for all women up to age 25, as well as pregnancy tests, medical appointments and bio-analyses in connection with birth control. Less than 24 hours later, France’s move was enthusiastically commended by the World Economic Forum in a short video published on its official Twitter account.

Véran made his announcement on the nationwide taxpayer-funded television station France 2, explaining that the main reason a number of young women do not use contraception is because of its cost. This statement was contradicted by the news center of the Fondation Jérome-Lejeune, Généthique.

Continue reading here France to offer free and anonymous contraception for women under 25 – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

Planned Parenthood tells middle schoolers about avoiding parental consent for abortion, contraception

Planned Parenthood tells middle schoolers about avoiding parental consent for abortion, contraception – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

Isabella Childs

TACOMA, Washington, June 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — An eighth-grade teacher in a Tacoma public school distributed a flyer detailing Washington state laws allowing minors to get abortions and contraceptives without parental consent. The flyer, produced by abortion giant Planned Parenthood, was given to Stewart Middle School students as part of their science curriculum.

The flyer said:

  • ABORTION: You do not need to get permission from your parents or guardians at any age.
  • BIRTH CONTROL: You are allowed to get a prescription for birth control without your parent or guardian’s permission.
  • CONDOMS: You can buy condoms at any age.
  • EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION: You can buy Plan B Emergency Contraception at a local pharmacy without a prescription at any age.

The flyer also mentions that there are exceptions to state law that says the age of consent is 16, assuring children they can lawfully have sexual intercourse “with somebody two years older or less” at the age of 11.

The flyer caused controversy after a concerned parent posted a picture of it on social media and confronted the school about it. After an investigation, the assistant director of education in the district, Eric Hogan, responded in an email to parents that was obtained by the Jason Rantz Show.

“The flyer is not part of our curriculum and should not have been sent home with students,” Hogan argued. “Previously, Planned Parenthood taught within our schools and supplied the flyer that was distributed to students. We discovered a binder of curriculum materials was left behind for an incoming teacher to use this year, and this flyer was in the binder. Not realizing the flyer wasn’t approved material, the teacher sent it home with students. Corrective action has been taken with this employee.”

Planned Parenthood, in addition to providing hundreds of thousands of abortions each year, is a big player in the field of sex education in schools. The organization and its allies have taught things like BDSM, including using whips, chains and gagging; have informed 11-year-olds about anal and oral sex; and introduced a chatbot that allows kids to go behind their parents’ back to ask about sex and abortion.

 

Texas Heartbeat Act debate exposes the strange pseudoscience of abortion advocates

 

Texas Heartbeat Act debate exposes the strange pseudoscience of abortion advocates

The enactment of the Texas Heartbeat Act has exposed the pseudoscience undergirding the worldview of abortion-rights supporters.

Heartbeat bills such as the one in Texas are predicated on the fact that an unborn child’s heartbeat can be detected via ultrasound at about six weeks’ gestation. For a movement that defends abortion on the grounds that the unborn child is not human — or has no claim to rights — this scientific reality poses some difficulties.

An enormous number of the justifications for legal abortion are detached from science, declaring the fetus inhuman or not a rights-bearing person on account of its as-yet-undeveloped or underdeveloped mental or physical functions.

The argument for legal abortion prior to “viability,” for instance, rationalizes abortion before about 20 weeks’ gestation on the grounds that the unborn child’s lungs are insufficiently developed to allow for survival outside the womb. Therefore, on this view, that child can be killed prior to such development because it remains dependent on its mother. (Why this logic doesn’t allow for the killing of newborns or adults who are on ventilators typically remains unexplained.)

 

Philosophical justifications for abortion follow a similar pattern. In her famous 1973 essay arguing that abortion is morally acceptable, philosopher Mary Anne Warren asserted that it is wrong to kill persons, but that not all human beings count as persons. Under her criteria for personhood — consciousness and capacity to feel pain, an ability to reason, self-motivated activity, capacity to communicate, and self-awareness — unborn human beings do not count and therefore can be killed. (Critics have noted that Warren’s criteria exclude additional categories of human beings, too, not just the unborn.)

Many rationalizations for abortion are far less sophisticated. Take one, for example, that suggests that a fetus isn’t human until it is born — as if the birth canal magically confers humanity on an organism that, mere seconds earlier, possessed the exact same qualities as the crying newborn. This is the case for abortion at its most illogical.

This last phrase, which sounds a bit like something out of a horror movie, became so popular among abortion activists that actress Alyssa Milano demanded that the press refer to all heartbeat bills as “fetal pole cardiac activity” bills.

 

Time magazine obliged Milano with “fetal cardiac activity.” The Guardian updated its style guide on the advice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — a powerful abortion lobby disguised as a medical group — citing the group’s statement that “ACOG does not use the term ‘heartbeat’ to describe these legislative bans on abortion because it is misleading language, out of step with the anatomical and clinical realities of that stage of pregnancy.”

The New York Times chose “the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart” and “embryonic pulsing.” New York magazine’s The Cut ran a piece called “Embryos Don’t Have Hearts,” referring to the heartbeat as “pulsing cells” and dedicated to debunking the “unscientific” notion of a fetal heartbeat:

What is detectable at or around six weeks can more accurately be called “cardiac activity,” says Robyn Schickler, OB/GYN and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. The difference between “cardiac activity” and “heartbeat” may seem linguistically minimal, but Schickler and others argue otherwise. At this stage, she says, what doctors can detect is essentially communication between a group of what will eventually become cardiac cells.

The Washington Post quoted unnamed “doctors who oppose the legislation” to assert that “what appears to be a heartbeat . . . is simply a vibration of developing tissues that could not exist without the mother. This vibration is a medical term called ‘embryonic cardiac activity.’”

The Post offered a similar notion in an article yesterday, again quoting anonymous “doctors opposed to the bills” who say that “the fluttering [i.e., the heartbeat] that is detected cannot exist outside the womb.” The Post appears to think it revelatory that removing an unborn child from the womb at six weeks’ gestation will result in its death.

READ: MEDIA BIAS: Business Insider claims sound of preborn heartbeat is just ‘from the machine’

In a piece yesterday, the New York Times insisted that the Texas heartbeat bill is misdescribed because “there is no heart at this stage of development, only electrical activity in developing cells. The heart is not fully formed until later in pregnancy.”

None of this has to do with real science or real medicine, both of which confirm the humanity of the unborn child at every stage of development. It is rather a game, designed to do one thing and one thing only: justify, by any means necessary, the ongoing killing of inconvenient human beings before birth.

Far from being champions of science, defenders of abortion twist the facts of biology and push the limits of language to justify dehumanization.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at National Review and is reprinted here with permission.

Do COVID Vaccines Cause Menstrual Changes? NIH Awards $1.67 Million in Grants to Study Possible Link.

Do COVID Vaccines Cause Menstrual Changes? NIH Awards $1.67 Million in Grants to Study Possible Link.

By 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded one-year supplemental grants totaling $1.67 million to five institutions to explore potential links between COVID vaccines and menstrual changes, after thousands of women reported menstrual irregularities after vaccination.

According to the NIH website, some women have reported experiencing irregular or missing menstrual periods, heavier-than-usual bleeding and other menstrual changes after receiving COVID vaccines.

The new funding will go toward research to determine whether the changes may be linked to COVID vaccination itself, and how long the changes last. Researchers will also seek to clarify the mechanisms underlying potential vaccine-related menstrual changes.

The year-long study will initially follow unvaccinated participants to observe changes that occur following each dose. Some groups will exclude participants on birth control or gender-affirming hormones, which may have their own impact on periods.

Researchers will assess the prevalence and severity of post-vaccination changes to menstrual characteristics, including flow, cycle length, pain and other symptoms. These analyses will account for other factors that can affect menstruation — such as stress, medications and exercise — to determine whether the changes are attributable to vaccination.

The five NIH-funded studies will be conducted by researchers at Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University and Oregon Health and Science University.

The studies will likely incorporate between 400,000 and 500,000 participants –– including adolescents and transgender and nonbinary people, according to Dr. Diana Bianchi, director of the agency’s Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is funding the research along with NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health.

“Nobody expected it [vaccination] to affect the menstrual system, because the information wasn’t being collected in the early vaccine studies,” said Bianchi, who credited The Washington Post’s early coverage of the issue, in April, with first making her and her staff aware of it.

These “rigorous scientific studies will improve our understanding of the potential effects of COVID-19 vaccines on menstruation, giving people who menstruate more information about what to expect after vaccination and potentially reducing vaccine hesitancy,” Bianchi added.

So far, no published studies have examined — or offered conclusive evidence — of possible links between the vaccines and menstruation.

The COVID vaccine trials did not specifically ask participants whether they saw adverse side effects in their menstrual cycles or volumes — an omission Bianchi attributes to the fact “the Emergency Use Authorization was really focused on critical safety issues” and “changes to your menstrual cycle is really not a life and death issue.”

But the lack of formal research on the potential link between the two “points out the fact that safety studies for vaccines … are not necessarily thinking about the reproductive health of women,” Bianchi said. “We hope one of the things that’s going to come out of this is that questions will be added to clinical trial studies to include any changes in menstrual health.”

According to the NIH, numerous factors can cause temporary changes in the menstrual cycle, which is regulated by complex interactions between the body’s tissues, cells and hormones.

Immune responses to a COVID vaccine could affect the interplay between immune cells and signals in the uterus, leading to temporary changes in the menstrual cycle.

Menstrual changes after COVID vaccination also could be attributed to immune responses to the vaccines and their impacts on the uterus, as well as to pandemic-related stress, lifestyle changes and the virus itself.

The new studies will build on existing research and leverage data from menstrual tracking applications to evaluate the potential impacts of COVID vaccination on menstrual health among geographically and racially and ethnically diverse populations.

The researchers hope that, following a peer-review process, findings will be published by the end of 2022 or soon after.

As The Defender reported, researchers have called for clinical trials since April to track and document menstrual changes in vaccinated women after some women reported hemorrhagic bleeding with clots, delayed or absent periods, sudden pre-menopausal symptoms, month-long periods and heavy irregular bleeding after being vaccinated with one or both doses of a COVID vaccine.

How to Intentionally Promote Better Gut Health After Getting Off Birth Control

Promoting gut health after ditching birth control | Natural Womanhood

If you recently stopped taking the pill and find that your digestive system is in disarray (or, if you’re like I was, and struggling with both PCOS and poor gut health), you’re not alone. As I shared in this article, a number of recent studies suggest that oral birth control may negatively impact gut health, decreasing microbial diversity and leading to intestinal permeability. Eventually, these imbalances in your microbiome can lead to symptoms like bloating, food sensitivities and cravings, nausea after eating, and even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In fact, a 2017 meta-analysis suggested that those exposed to oral birth control had a 30 percent increased risk for developing an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Learning all this can be overwhelming when you’re already feeling unwell. The good news, though, is that these unpleasant symptoms can often be reversed by using natural remedies and forming new habits. Below, you’ll find five strategies based on the latest scientific research to intentionally heal your gut after being on birth control.

Tip #1: Replenish key nutrients for gut health that were depleted by birth control

Studies dating back to the late 1960s have shown that the birth control pill depletes key B vitamins (B2, B6, B12, and folate), along with vitamins C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Although it’s unclear how these depletions occur, it’s been suggested that the pill causes either malabsorption or increased excretion of these nutrients. Since a number of these nutrients are important in gut function and detoxification, it’s important to get your levels back up to normal. Zinc enhances the gut lining, for example, while selenium has been shown to improve gut microbial diversity.

To replenish your nutrient stores, look for a high quality prenatal or multivitamin from a reputable source. It’s a good idea to choose brands that are third-party tested, such as Pure Encapsulations or Thorne. When looking for a prenatal containing folate, consider brands like Designs for Health that use the bioavailable form of folate, L-methylfolate. Many brands opt for cheaper, synthetic folic acid, but studies have shown that 40 – 60% of the population has a genetic mutation that inhibits the conversion of folic acid to its active form. You may also wish to have your doctor run bloodwork, which can help determine if you should supplement your multivitamin with a higher daily dose of any particular vitamin.

Tip #2: Incorporate probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet

Moving forward, you’ll want to focus on eating foods that will support your microbiome in the long-term. This advice isn’t limited to those coming off the pill. Many of us would do well to incorporate prebiotic and probiotic foods into our diet, as these foods work together to promote a healthy gut.

Because probiotic foods have been fermented by good bacteria, eating them introduces these beneficial bugs into your gut lining. Some common (and delicious) fermented foods include yogurt, raw sauerkraut, kimchi and other pickled vegetables, kefir, and kombucha. Just be sure to select a yogurt, kefir, or kombucha brand that is low in sugar, as eating too much sugar promotes inflammation and alters our microbiome. One word of caution, though, is that if you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which has been associated with using oral birth control, it’s recommended that you avoid fermented foods until the infection has healed.

Prebiotic foods, on the other hand, contain fiber and resistant starch that “feed” your good gut bugs to maintain the health of your microbiome. We’ve already touched on fiber-rich vegetables in tip #1. Resistant starch, however, is a complex carbohydrate that ferments in your large intestine, feeding good gut bacteria in the process. Try incorporating sweet potatoes and yams into your diet or making tortillas and pancakes out of plantains and green bananas. There is even a gluten-free flour made from green bananas that is becoming increasingly popular! Since these foods are high in carbs, just be sure to round out your plate with plenty of non-starchy vegetables to help balance your blood sugar.

 

Tip #3: Support your birth control detox through diet

Dr. Jolene Brighten, a functional medicine physician and pioneer in treating post-birth control syndrome, emphasizes in her popular book Beyond the Pill that those coming off the pill should focus on foods that assist natural detoxification pathways. These foods should support the liver in processing the excess synthetic estrogen that forms a key component of the pill.

Dr. Brighten recommends eating a minimum of 25 grams of fiber a day from 3 to 6 cups of organic vegetables, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. If this constitutes a huge change in your diet, though, you’ll want to build up your fiber consumption slowly so that you don’t encourage further digestive distress. She also stresses the importance of finding a high-quality protein source. In practice, this means eating the best meat and eggs that fit your grocery budget. Ideally, you’ll be focusing on grass-fed, organic meats and pasture-raised eggs, but don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of the good.

In addition to eating the right foods, supplementing with a probiotic pill can help balance your gut bacteria. This daily, concentrated dose will help re-introduce the “good gut bugs” that have been crowded out by the bad. Dr. Brighten suggests that the organisms that have proved most helpful for her post-birth control patients are “high-dose, high-strain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, Saccharomyces boulardii, and spore-forming probiotics” (126). What constitutes a high dose? Dr. Hyman at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine recommends seeking out a probiotic with at least 25 – 50 billion living CFUs (colony-forming unity).

Tip #5: Avoid inflammatory foods

Knowing which foods to avoid is just as important as knowing which foods to incorporate. Many experts recommend avoiding the top inflammatory foods for 30 days to give your gut time to heal. Then, you can reintroduce them one at a time to determine if they give you a reaction. I have personal experience with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), which eliminates all potentially inflammatory foods for 30 days, and it had a powerful effect on my own gut health. Many women have also had great success with the Whole30, which focuses on “whole foods” rather than processed foods. The big three offenders are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, but both of these food protocols also recommend avoiding grains, soy, caffeine, alcohol, and inflammatory fats from vegetable and seed oils like canola and safflower.

If you’d like to dive deeper into current research on post-birth control syndrome, I wholeheartedly recommend reading Dr. Brighten’s Beyond the Pill in full. It’s chock full of information and is written in an accessible, conversational style. As Dr. Brighten reminds us, healing your gut is the first step toward reclaiming your health after being on the pill. And, when you’re ready, learning to chart your cycle with a fertility awareness method (FAM) is another excellent way to truly take charge of your reproductive health.

Texas becomes first state ever to enforce ‘heartbeat law’

Texas becomes first state ever to enforce ‘heartbeat law’ (liveaction.org)

As of midnight on September 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet responded to an emergency appeal from abortion proponents to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from going into effect, which protects preborn children from the first detectable heartbeat (around five to six weeks gestation). According to the Associated Press, at least 12 other states had previously passed legislation to protect children at the same point in gestation, none had been allowed to go into effect until now, making Texas the first state to successfully enforce such a law.

News outlets reported that abortion facilities in the state had stopped scheduling abortions past six weeks days in advance of the September 1 effective date. The AP noted, “Planned Parenthood is among the abortion providers that have stopped scheduling abortions beyond six weeks from conception.”

According to the emergency appeal, the law will “immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close.” The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project estimates that about 80% of in-state abortions will be prevented. However, these estimates are not verifiable because Texas abortion data lumps abortions at eight weeks or earlier together. Data from Texas Health and Human Services shows that in 2020 there were 53,922 total abortions committed in Texas on Texas residents. Of those, 45,458 (about 84%) occurred eight weeks or less into the pregnancy. The Texas Heartbeat Act does not restrict abortion based on gestational age but on the detection of a fetal heartbeat using whatever method the abortionist deems appropriate — likely either an ultrasound or Doppler fetal heartbeat monitor. According to the law, “A physician does not violate this section if the physician performed a test for a fetal heartbeat as required […] and did not detect a fetal heartbeat.” This makes it difficult to determine how many abortions will be prevented, but it will likely be a large percentage, perhaps even greater than 85%.

“Right now in the great state of Texas, every single child with a detectable heartbeat is legally protected from being killed by the violence of abortion. This is a historic step forward for basic human rights,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action. “I applaud the brave advocates and lawmakers in Texas for passing this innovative law designed to withstand the tidal wave of attacks from abortionists and their apologists. Citizens and lawmakers must be vigilant in their defense of this law because we know that the abortion industry is determined to profit from the deaths of as many children as they can. No matter what happens going forward, today is a day for celebration and a vital reprieve for the precious children scheduled for death behind the doors of a Texas abortion business. Dozens of life affirming pregnancy centers all around the state stand by with the resources and compassion to ensure every mother and father are equipped to care for their children and families. The pro-life movement will continue fighting until every single child is protected in law and supported to live out her full potential.”

The Texas Heartbeat Act is unique in that it allows for civil penalties against those who commit or “aid and abet” an abortion once a heartbeat is detectable. As Live Action News reported in May following the signing of the law, “Though the law does not include punishments for women who undergo abortions after a heartbeat is detected in their child, it does allow private citizens to file lawsuits against a doctor that commits an abortion on such a child” as well as those who are involved in helping a woman to procure that abortion. The abortion industry responded by labeling the civil action portion of the law as an “abortion bounty.”

A preborn child’s heart begins to beat between 16 and 22 days after fertilization, but a unique human life begins at the moment of fertilization.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from its original publication.

The Startling Ways that Birth Control May Impact Gut Health and lead to IBD

The Startling Ways that Birth Control May Impact Gut Health and lead to IBD

Over the last year, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and began working to balance my hormones through diet and lifestyle changes. My personal experience with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet aligned with recent studies suggesting that an anti-inflammatory diet can mitigate the symptoms of both PCOS and gut dysbiosis—an imbalance in the microorganisms living in your digestive system that can cause a host of GI symptoms.

By all accounts, I am not alone in my gut-related symptoms. While my digestive complaints were not severe enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis, studies show that cases of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), an umbrella term for disorders involving chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, are rising rapidly worldwide. Symptoms of IBD can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and abdominal pain, among others.

While researching the risk factors for IBD, I was surprised to learn that a genetic predisposition can account for less than 25% of cases. Scientists now believe that external, environmental factors may account for much of the remaining 75%. What shocked me most was learning that oral contraceptives have been clearly and consistently associated with an increased risk for IBD since at least 2008, with case reports stretching back to the 1960s.

The connection between the pill and IBD

In fact, the number of studies suggesting that oral contraceptives negatively impact gut health grows each year, and known side effects of hormonal birth control include GI issues like nausea and upset stomach. The association was first suggested through case reports that appeared in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, in 1984, one study showed that oral birth control use was common in 100 consecutive women attending follow-up clinics for IBD. Other studies demonstrated that symptoms of IBD often resolved when patients discontinued oral contraceptive use.

A 2008 meta-analysis published in Gastroenterology, which combined the results of 14 different studies including a total of 75,815 patients, found that those using oral contraceptives had a nearly 50% increased risk of developing IBD. Dr. Hamed Khalili, a Harvard-trained gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, headed a sweeping 2013 prospective study involving over 200,000 women that suggested that “oral contraceptive use was associated with risk of Crohn’s disease [a type of IBD].” Shockingly, the study specified that oral contraceptive use could triple the risk of Crohn’s disease in women with a family history of the condition.

More recently, a 2017 meta-analysis of twenty studies and multiple databases reported that those exposed to oral birth control had a 30 percent increased risk for the development of IBD. Specifically, the studies showed that those exposed to birth control had a 24 percent higher risk for developing Crohn’s disease and a 30 percent higher risk for developing ulcerative colitis.

Why a “leaky” gut is an unhealthy gut

At this point, you might be wondering what birth control pills and the hormones they contain could possibly have to do with your digestive system—and if you yourself might be at risk for IBD if you are on or have ever taken birth control.

First, it’s important to understand that the gut microbiome is composed of the “flora” or microbes lining your digestive tract, and that these bacteria and viruses have a large impact on our overall health. For example, we rely on our intestines to form a tight barrier and keep harmful microbes out of our bloodstream. Sometimes, however, gaps form. When this intestinal permeability develops, a phenomenon sometimes called “leaky gut,” invaders may squeeze between the cracks. These harmful microbes may trigger inflammation and changes in our gut flora.

Furthermore, increased intestinal permeability is known to play a role in gastrointestinal conditions including celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Why oral estrogen might lead to a leaky gut

In a 2016 article, Dr. Khalili points to two biological mechanisms through which birth control might harm gut health. First, he notes that oral estrogen is known to negatively impact gut flora. Oral estrogen, of course, is one of two main hormones found in birth control pills. When a woman is prescribed oral contraceptives, she is usually given a combination of the synthetic versions of two key female sex hormones: estrogen (estradiol) and progestin. The two hormones work together to hinder ovulation, thereby preventing conception. In addition, they make cervical mucus inhospitable to sperm, and change the uterine lining so that an embryo would be unable to implant should breakthrough ovulation occur and fertilization happen.

Intestinal permeability appears to be another, unintended consequence of the hormonal changes wrought by birth control. Dr. Khalili cites experimental data from two studies suggesting that estrogen helps maintain the function of the intestinal barrier. He also writes, in no uncertain terms, that oral estrogen “has been shown to modify intestinal permeability,” and that intestinal permeability is “a critical step in the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease.” In other words, oral birth control may lead to leaky gut, and a leaky gut may lead to IBD. If this is the case, then we have a clear indication of how oral birth control is detrimental to gut health.

Similarly, Dr. Jolene Brighten, a naturopathic physician and leader in alerting women to the realities of post-birth control syndrome, emphasizes in one article that birth control can lead not only to leaky gut, but to “yeast overgrowth (candida), decreased microbial diversity and altered gut motility.” In fact, the problems birth control causes in the gut are the subject of an entire chapter in Dr. Brighten’s popular book about hormones, Beyond the Pill.

Strategies for improving gut health

If you’re suffering from IBD or compromised gut health, there is hope. The five strategies I outline in this article have been shown to help restore the gut microbiome, no matter how that dysbiosis occurred. Those approaches include incorporating probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet, reducing your intake of sugar and processed foods, and switching out make-up and household products that contain potentially harmful ingredients. In a future article, I will offer more in-depth suggestions for how women exposed to oral birth control can intentionally heal their gut and restore healthy flora. If you’d like to learn more about the documented side effects of birth control, you can find a wealth of information here. It’s time to pay attention to the growing body of scientific literature showing that birth control is harming our health.

 

Hyde Amendment Under Attack

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

The Hyde Amendment is one of the most important pro-life achievements in U.S. history. But right now, it is under serious threat.

For those who are unaware, the Hyde Amendment, named after pro-life Rep. Henry Hyde, is an amendment that has been appended to every appropriations (i.e., spending) bill since 1976. The amendment clearly states that taxpayer dollars cannot be used to fund abortions.

Last year, pro-life scholar Michael New analyzed the impact of the Hyde Amendment. According to his analysis, from 1976 to 2020, the Hyde Amendment stopped some 2.4 million abortions.

How? Simple. Research consistently shows that reducing funding for abortion also reduces abortions. By ensuring that our hard-earned tax dollars do not get used by pro-abortion politicians to abort innocent unborn babies, the Hyde Amendment has saved countless lives.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that pro-life political involvement has been for naught,” Dr. New said in an interview last year. “There are 2.4 million women out there who have been spared a lifetime of regret because of the Hyde amendment and there are 2.4 million people walking around today who owe their lives to the Hyde Amendment.”

One of the most important facts about the Hyde Amendment is that it has been passed every year regardless of who was in power – Democrats or Republicans. That is, it has been a truly bipartisan amendment. While there have always been some extremist pro-abortion Democrats who have wanted to get rid of the amendment, there has always been enough consensus to ensure that spending bills were protected by it.

Until now.

Democrats Ditch the Hyde Amendment

One of President Biden’s campaign promises was to scrap the Hyde Amendment. And now it appears that Democrats in Congress are working to make that happen.

A few weeks ago, the House Appropriations Committee advanced an appropriations bill that conspicuously lacked the Hyde Amendment. Pro-life Republican Rep. Tom Cole attempted to introduce the amendment, but to no avail.

In a speech, Rep. Cole noted that President Biden had consistently supported the Hyde Amendment throughout his time in the U.S. Senate, but only flip-flopped on the issue while running for President.  “There is no moral equivalent to life and death,” Rep. Cole noted in his speech. “The preservation of one of our nation’s most enduring compromises to protect life and respect religious beliefs goes back to our founding principles. Any other issue falls far short of that standard. That is why we offer this amendment first. That is why this amendment has unanimous support on our side. And that is why we will vigorously fight to ensure this amendment is included in any final agreement.”

The appropriations committee voted 32-27 against Cole’s amendment. Shortly thereafter, the appropriations bill was approved in a 219-208 party line vote by the full House, which is controlled by the Democrats. This marks the first time in some 45 years that the House has passed a spending bill without the life-protecting amendment.

One prominent pro-abortion Democrat, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, attempted to defend the removal of the Hyde Amendment, decrying it as “discriminatory.”

“I am proud that this bill promotes equal treatment for women through increased funding for Title X and by repealing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment,” she said. “But I do believe repealing the Hyde Amendment is the best thing we can do to support our mothers and families and help prevent, rather than penalize unwanted pregnancies and later, riskier and more costly abortions.”

This is the kind of double-speak that abortion supporters have to use to defend using our money to kill unborn children! Somehow preventing taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions is “discriminatory,” while paying for the killing of unborn children somehow supports “families.”

Infuriatingly, the two most prominent figures pushing for the end to the Hyde Amendment are also the two politicians who most conspicuously tout their alleged “devout” Catholic faith – President Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In response to this attack on the unborn, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement strongly decrying the effort to scrap the amendment.

“The House has voted in a way that is completely out of step with the will of the American people who overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer-funded abortion,” they noted. “The Hyde Amendment has saved at least 2.4 million lives since its enactment. Without it, millions of poor women in desperate circumstances will make the irrevocable decision to take the government up on its offer to end the life of their child.”

They added, “Funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to kill in violation of their consciences, are grave abuses of human rights. We call on the Senate to redress this evil in H.R. 4502, and for Congress to ultimately pass appropriations bills that fully support and protect human dignity, and the most vulnerable among us.”

candles

Hope Remains

Fortunately, the passage of the appropriations bill by the House is not the end of the story. The bill still needs to pass the Senate, and while Democrats hold a narrow majority there, it appears that there is yet hope that it will not pass.

Democrat Senator Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, told Chad Pergram of Fox News that he suspects the bill may not pass without the Hyde Amendment.

Pergram reported: “It’s probable the House and Senate will have to do some sort of interim spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September. Such a Band-Aid bill simply renews all spending at old levels and restores old policy on a temporary basis. That means the Hyde Amendment remains in place. Congress will likely pass an amalgamated spending package for all of the measures later in the fall or winter. Stripping the Hyde Amendment on that mega-bill could be enough to spark a government shutdown on its own. So, pro-choice Democrats are unlikely to go to the mat the over the Hyde Amendment.”

In other words, if the Democrats stick to their intent to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, they would be in for a fight that they would likely lose, and that would come with significant political costs. As Pergram notes, that includes the risk of galvanizing pro-life activists into pushing back and perhaps even strengthening the bipartisan commitment to the Hyde Amendment.

However, even if this attempt to gut the Hyde Amendment fails, it stands as proof of just how deadly serious President Biden and the Democrats are about rejecting even the most commonsense and widely supported compromise measures on abortion.

Indeed, in addition to removing the Hyde Amendment, the Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee also stripped the appropriations bill of the Weldon amendment – an amendment included in spending bills since 2005 that prohibits government funds from going to programs that discriminate against health care workers who object to abortion.

As I was concluding this article for publication, I learned that that the Senate voted for a budget amendment to its multi-trillion-dollar spending bill that bans taxpayer-funding of abortions for any federal funds authorized under the bill.

Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced a resolution amendment that protects against taxpayer funding of abortion. His amendment to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for funding of abortions and abortion-related discrimination was successfully adopted by a vote of 50-49 to the Democrats’ partisan budget resolution.

The amendment, if adopted by Congress in the final budget resolution, would ensure that the budget will comply with the long-standing Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortion, and the Weldon amendment, which protects health care providers who refuse to participate in abortion from discrimination.

The House of Representatives returns from recess the week of August 23rd where they will reconcile the Senate’s budget with their own. So, please join me in praying that the budget amendment by the Senate will be adopted by Congress. Also, let us call our representatives in Congress, asking them to defend human life and protect freedom of conscience.

By the way, the next time you hear the Democrats proclaim that they want abortion to be “safe, legal and rare,” just remember that they are trying to make you pay for abortions with your taxpayer dollars, and they are actively seeking to undermine the rights of pro-life health care workers to follow their consciences.

Clearly, there is nothing moderate about that.

Comparing the risks and side effects of hormonal birth control vs. natural fertility awareness

 

While some have attempted to claim that pregnancy risks are greater than hormonal birth control risks, this is not an apples to apples comparison. A far better comparison is to assess the risks of someone using hormonal birth control (HBC) to someone who is not — as in the case of women who use fertility awareness methods (FAM) as natural birth control or to address reproductive health issues. In the final analysis, FAMs are the clear winner for promoting true women’s health rather than merely masking symptoms.

Hormonal birth control

Taking hormonal birth control involves a true risk vs. benefit analysis, as the risks are many. Hormonal birth control impacts far more than “just” the reproductive system and the parts of the brain that control it. In her book, “This is Your Brain on Birth Control,” evolutionary psychologist Sarah Hill, who is not opposed to contraception, said on p. 90, “The brain and the rest of the body are too flush with hormone receptors for the pill not to change women.” Also impacted are the areas of the brain responsible for “things like emotional processing, social interactions, attention, learning, memory, facial recognition, self-control, eating behavior, and language processing. And we’re also talking about non-brain body parts like the immune system, the stress response, and your gut hormones.”

Accordingly, the Mayo Clinic notes that the Pill is not recommended for women who:

  • have recently given birth
  • are older than age 35 and smoke, have high blood pressure, a blood clotting disorder, or a history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • have a history of breast cancer, stroke or heart disease, diabetes-related complications, liver or gallbladder disease, migraines with aura, or unexplained uterine bleeding
  • will be immobilized for a prolonged period due to major surgery
  • are taking St. John’s wort or anticonvulsant or anti-tuberculous agents

While the Cleveland Clinic cites stoppage of unwanted hair growth as a potential benefit of taking HBC, multiple versions of the Pill can actually cause male-pattern hair growth in women because the synthetic form of progesterone used in HBC is actually derived from testosterone. Testosterone-derived progestins are also linked to acne, weight gain, and decreases in good cholesterol (HDL). Additionally, HBC worsens migraines for some women.

The Cleveland Clinic cites potential for “irritability and moodiness” in HBC users, but the Mayo Clinic is more straightforward, noting that some women experience depression. In reality, both statements give an inadequate picture of the emotional distress many women, especially young women, experience on HBC. Hill shares on p. 174 of her book, “mood-related issues like anxiety and depression are super-common among women who go on the pill.”

Disturbing research from Denmark gave a framework for quantifying the risk, finding that women on hormonal contraception “were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with depression six months later” vs. non-HBC users, and that “women who were on hormonal contraceptives were 40% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant” than non-HBC users. Worst of all, women taking HBC “were twice as likely to have attempted suicide” than non-HBC users during the eight-year study, and were three times more likely than non-HBC users to have been successful in taking their own lives, according to Hill’s book, on pages 179-180.

In addition, most forms of HBC can act as abortifacients, killing preborn children without a woman knowing she was even pregnant. Both the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic acknowledge endometrial thinning due to HBC use.

Despite all of the risks, some women take birth control to prevent pregnancy, lighten periods, and lessen menstrual pain. Others take it to alleviate the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids, and more — though these conditions are actually masked by the birth control rather than addressed.

Fertility awareness methods

The truth is that the steady stream of tiny synthetic hormonal spikes in HBC merely band-aid the symptoms of the variety of reproductive issues it is prescribed to treat. FAMs help women to get to the bottom of their fertility health concerns, rather than masking the symptoms of irregular periods with “faux” regular periods that are actually withdrawal bleeds, for example. FAMs actually promote truly comprehensive pro-women’s healthbody literacy, and women’s ability to advocate for themselves.

Additionally, there are no physical side effects of using FAM, and ovulating normally each cycle has health benefits. Trained medical professionals can use a woman’s FAM chart data to help diagnose and treat the root causes of her problems, including endometriosis, PCOS, PMS, irregular bleeding, and more.

Women can expect to improve their health by using FAMs, though the same cannot be said for HBC users. Importantly as well, modern FAMs have similar pregnancy prevention effectiveness rates to HBC when taught by a trained instructor and used properly.

Comparing apples to apples, women who utilize fertility awareness methods for pregnancy prevention or to address reproductive health issues can expect to improve their health whereas women who utilize HBCs are automatically accepting certain physical trade-offs with varying degrees of seriousness.

Magnetic Birth Control, Delivered By Shots

The following is an article published at  forbes.com 

Scientists Invent Magnetic Birth Control, Delivered By Shots (forbes.com)

Scientists have developed tiny magnetic particles that could one day be used by men for birth control.

The nanoscopic particles are injected into the bloodstream and would then be guided to the testes with a magnetic field, which also generates heat for contraception.

Heat is a natural contraceptive. Male mammals often have a suspended scrotal sac to keep their testes cool. By wearing tight pants or underwear, some male humans also raise the temperature of their scrotums, which can lower sperm counts.

Led by Fei Sun and Weihua Ding from the Institute of Reproductive Medicine at Nantong University in China, a team of researchers has been studying artificial ways to heat the testes — using nanoscopic particles as contraceptives.

In a , the team tested gold nanorods that control contraception by using beams of light to heat the metal pills and create a ‘photothermal effect’.

But as they note in their new study, gold nanorods have “associated limitations, such as testicular administration and infrared laser inflicting severe pain.”

Besides the fact that jabbing your balls and heating them with lasers may not be ideal before lovemaking, the gold nanorods were just 90% effective at reducing fertility, as well as being non-biodegradable and potentially toxic.

Sharing NFP: A Holistic Approach to Sexuality

 

Any fair analysis of how well the Catholic Church has done in educating Catholics about – let alone convincing them of – the Church’s teaching on contraception, would have to conclude that the Church’s ministers have failed quite spectacularly.

One much-cited poll from 2016 found that only 13% of weekly Mass-going Catholics agreed with the Church’s teaching that contraception is “morally wrong.” The number was even lower for those Catholics who do not attend Mass weekly – around six percent.

To say those numbers are dismal is an understatement. So, what went wrong?

Answering that question would take several volumes. Certainly, there is the blunt fact of the unforeseen cultural revolution of the 1960s, which swept and radically transformed practically every nation, class, institution, religion, and denomination, with few exceptions. In the face of the tidal wave of revolutionary moral teaching, the Church was in many ways caught unaware and unprepared.

Then of course, there is that little object, that small round pill, that made that revolutionary tidal wave possible: the birth-control pill. With the invention of the Pill (so monumental was this discovery that we tend to capitalize the “P”), for the first time in history it looked as if it might be possible for human beings to engage in the one activity that for many represents the height of physical pleasure, but without any thought for the enormous consequences that sex naturally carries with it.

Hidden Consequences

“Looked,” I say. Because as Pope St. Paul VI so prophetically warned in Humanae Vitae, behind that great, glistening promise of a new age of unfettered sexuality lay a whole world of pain. As Paul VI anticipated, the Pill unleashed abortion on a scale never seen before; caused men, allured by the promise of “consequence-free” sex, to objectify and abuse women as a matter of course; coarsened public morals beyond recognition, undermining marriage and elevating hedonism; and led to grave threats to human dignity and freedom, with totalitarian nations imposing coercive population control measures on their populace.

But there have been other consequences, too.

A friend of mine, a father of a large family, was describing how, on one occasion, he mentioned to two non-Catholic female friends that he and his wife used Natural Family Planning (NFP). He mentioned to them that not only does the method work, but that, among many reasons, he appreciates it because it is healthier for his wife and respects the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage. Contraception, on the other hand, he added, not only distorts the ends of marriage but many women who take large doses of artificial hormones suffer from several physical side effects. “Yeah,” one of the women agreed wryly, “like reducing a woman’s libido.”

Of course, this is hardly the most important reason to oppose hormonal contraception, but it is a very telling reason. Modern human beings, in their drive to conquer nature, have also attempted to conquer sex, taming it, and making it do our bidding on our terms. And yet, while progressives have a great deal to say about how subjecting nature to violence inevitably leads to unforeseen consequences, for some reason they never seem to consider how our technological violence against sex has had unintended side effects.

The fact that many women do experience reductions in libido while on the birth control pill is perhaps the most ironic of these side effects. In the effort to unleash sex from all limits and to maximize pleasure, our technocratic solution has sometimes had precisely the opposite effect!

However, there are other, graver side effects associated with the Pill: increased risks of stroke, certain types of cancer, and even heart attack; weight gain; headaches; high blood pressure, and others. Which should hardly come as a surprise. What, after all, could possibly be “healthy” about using the blunt instrument of huge doses of synthetic chemicals to interrupt the delicate and complex processes of a woman’s reproductive cycle?

A Better Way

All of which brings me to the central point of this column, and a possible answer to the question I raised above. One possible reason that the Church has not been successful in convincing Catholics of Catholic teaching, is that we have done a very poor job of preaching the beauty of Church teaching regarding the dignity of marriage and the conjugal act and its openness to life. We have not preached an attractive alternative to the contraceptive mentality.

Last week, the U.S. Catholic Church marked Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week. Let me begin by saying that I don’t want you to misunderstand me: It would be a grave mistake to think of NFP simply as an “alternative” to the Pill. While it is true that NFP is a method (or rather, a collection of methods) that can be used by married couples to postpone having another child for legitimate reasons, it is certainly not a method of contraception. For starters, unlike contraception, NFP is a method that is equally successful in helping married couples who are having difficulty conceiving to do so. I’d like to see the Pill do that!

What I mean by an “attractive alternative” is that NFP is a collection of methods that translate into action the totality of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality in a way that offers a compelling response to the many unforeseen side effects and sources of pain brought about by the sexual revolution.

In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II beautifully expressed the truth about NFP in a single paragraph, writing:

The work of educating in the service of life involves the training of married couples in responsible procreation. In its true meaning, responsible procreation requires couples to be obedient to the Lord’s call and to act as faithful interpreters of his plan. This happens when the family is generously open to new lives, and when couples maintain an attitude of openness and service to life, even if, for serious reasons and in respect for the moral law, they choose to avoid a new birth for the time being or indefinitely. The moral law obliges them in every case to control the impulse of instinct and passion, and to respect the biological laws inscribed in their person. It is precisely this respect which makes legitimate, at the service of responsible procreation, the use of natural methods of regulating fertility. From the scientific point of view, these methods are becoming more and more accurate and make it possible in practice to make choices in harmony with moral values. An honest appraisal of their effectiveness should dispel certain prejudices which are still widely held, and should convince married couples, as well as health-care and social workers, of the importance of proper training in this area. (no. 97)

Unpacking that paragraph, we can note a few key characteristics of NFP:

1) It’s scientific. The Church has always acknowledged that married couples may have legitimate reasons for postponing having another child, and that there is no intrinsic moral impediment to timing sexual relations to coincide with the infertile period of the woman’s cycle. However, while a rudimentary understanding of the female reproductive cycle has existed for a long time, until relatively recently we lacked sufficiently detailed scientific information to formulate clear principles.

That all changed beginning in the early 20th century. Now, the science of fertility is a highly developed science, and there are several different methods of NFP that, if carefully followed, will help married couples either to postpone having a child, or to conceive a child, with a remarkable degree of reliability. With the recent explosion in, and popularity of, fertility apps, it is rarer to hear people denigrate “the rhythm method.” But even still a huge number of people remain unaware of just how scientifically advanced NFP has become, and how much easier to practice, due to a huge growth in resources and training materials.

NFP - acronym from wooden blocks with letters, abbreviation NFP, Natural Family Planning concept

2) It is embedded in a basic stance of “openness to life.” Unlike the case of artificial contraception, married couples who practice NFP always have fertility and children on their mind. Whereas the contracepting couple can simply take the Pill and go on “autopilot,” never giving a moment’s thought to children for years and years, the couple practicing NFP is prodded to re-evaluate their reasons for postponing having a child on a monthly basis. It is very difficult for the couple practicing NFP to lose sight of the fact that their reproductive systems are naturally designed for procreation. In this sense, NFP is simply more biologically and philosophically “truthful” than artificial contraception.

3) It demands personal virtue. Unlike artificial contraception, NFP demands personal sacrifice from the married couple, and often, in a special way, from the man, who must gain control over his sexual desires and channel them in a healthy way out of respect for his wife. At first glance this may not seem like a particularly “attractive” feature of NFP, and it is certainly the one that scares many couples away from it. However, those who have achieved any level of personal maturity have learned the truth that true satisfaction in this life is closely linked to the willingness to do difficult things and to delay gratification for good reasons. Married couples who use NFP consistently report all sorts of positive benefits, including better communication; a deepening of the couple’s love; a growth in spiritual and personal maturity; a sense that the woman is not being “used” by her husband for sex; more fulfilling sexual intimacy.

In an age where we prioritize and value “holistic” lifestyles, NFP is the ultimate holistic approach to sexuality: embracing body, mind, and soul. The Church has every reason to be proud of the fact that, long before Silicon Valley app designers discovered the benefits of “fertility awareness” (which is an often flawed ideology that relies on some of the same biological principles) we have preached a holistic approach to sex that emphasizes profound respect for natural processes.

But more than that, we should be proud that the Church’s prophetic vision saw clearly the spiritual, social, and physical dangers of the sexual revolution and the contraceptive mentality. In championing NFP, the Church highlights a far better response to our modern culture of sexual exploitation, or what Pope Francis calls the “throwaway culture,” a culture of discarding the fruit of our sexual unions as well as our exploited sexual partners.

Sexuality must be integrated into a holistic vision of the human person, that considers our fundamental dignity, deepest needs and moral responsibilities. Sexual pleasure is a good, but only when integrated into a loving, permanent union that is open to life. This is the vision of human sexuality embodied in Natural Family Planning. It is worth celebrating, and it is worth telling others about.

As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae, “The Church is grateful to those who, with personal sacrifice and often unacknowledged dedication, devote themselves to the study and spread of these methods, as well to the promotion of education in the moral values which they presuppose.” (no. 97)

In its teachings on sexuality, the Church has a great light to share with the world. It is time to stop hiding that light under a bushel basket. For this reason, I am grateful to the USCCB for organizing this NFP Awareness Week.

New Study Debunks Infamous Abortion Industry Myth

President of Planned Parenthood Leana Wen speaks during a protest against abortion bans, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. A coalition of dozens of groups held a National Day of Action to Stop the Bans, with other events planned throughout the week. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A new peer-reviewed examination of almost eight million pregnancies over a 15-year period debunks the abortion industry’s fictional narrative that abortion is a normal experience for mothers who already have children.

The study conducted by researchers at the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) found abortion among low-income women with children is exceedingly uncommon, if not rare.

Below is one example of the abortion industry’s myth from Planned Parenthood’s own website:

“Deciding to have an abortion doesn’t mean you don’t want or love children. In fact, 6 out of 10 people who get abortions already have kids — and many of them decide to end their pregnancies so they can focus on the children they already have.”

However, according to the new study authored by Dr. James Studnicki and a team of CLI researchers titled Estimating the Period Prevalence of Mothers Who Have Abortions: A Population Based Study of Inclusive Pregnancy Outcomes, revealed that out of nearly five million Medicaid-enrolled women with at least one pregnancy, less than 6% had both births and abortions.

The researchers also found that women in the study population almost never used abortion as a tool to space their children, proving another abortion industry myth is also false.

CLI’s paper was recently published in the international journal Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology.

Abortion in No Way Typical of Motherhood

The institute’s researchers conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional, and longitudinal analysis of the pregnancy outcomes experienced by 4.9 million Medicaid-enrolled women who had 7.8 million pregnancies between 1999 and 2014.  These women were at least 13 years old, had at least one identifiable pregnancy outcome, and were from the 17 states whose official policies use state taxpayer funds to pay for abortions.

“After studying the largest universe of actual pregnancy outcomes ever analyzed, our team found that abortion is in no way typical of motherhood,” Dr. James Studnicki, CLI vice president and director of data analytics, and one of the paper’s authors said.

“We didn’t sample or conduct surveys – we analyzed all recorded events. We followed the data. It is quite uncommon, if not rare, to have both births and abortions. The overwhelming number of children are born to mothers who never have an abortion,” Studnicki noted.

Other key findings from the CLI study include:

  • Women with both births and abortions have more abortions than births.  Women in the study who had both births and state-funded abortions averaged 3.2 pregnancies or more than twice the average number of pregnancies for women with “only births” or “only state-funded abortions.”
  • Abortion was rarely used to support healthy families or space out children. Abortions that could have been performed to delay a first birth (2.2%), space two births (1.0%), or end childbearing (3.0%) were rare.
  • This latest study expands on ongoing CLI research led by Studnicki analyzing Medicaid claims data to shed light on pregnancy outcome patterns.

    As CBN News reported last month, another CLI study published online in the peer-reviewed Medical Science Monitor found 2,162,600 Medicaid beneficiaries in 17 states with state taxpayer-funded abortion reveals that “rapid repeat pregnancy” (defined as a second pregnancy within 2 years) is most common among women who have abortions.

    Contrary to the narrative pushed by the abortion industry that abortion eases financial or personal problems for pregnant women, the study authored by CLI researchers suggests that a high number of women are pressured into having unwanted first-time abortions.

    Data Doesn’t Lie – Most Mothers Not Undergoing Abortions

    CLI President Charles A. “Chuck” Donovan said the new study reveals the abortion industry’s narrative isn’t true.

    “They want to make it acceptable to target vulnerable women and children by citing estimates and surveys conducted at abortion centers to support the narrative that ‘everybody is doing it,’” he said.

    “What Dr. Studnicki and his team have done is truly remarkable. This peer-reviewed research is based on nearly five million women who had nearly eight million pregnancies. By comparison, the frequently cited ‘Turnaway Study’ from the abortion industry is based on interviews with just 813 women,” Donovan continued.

    “Most mothers are not undergoing abortions.  We know that instinctively. We know that based on logic. Now, we know it based on data,” he added.

    The Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world.

Ecological Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

John and Sheila Kippley
(World NFP Congress, Milan, Italy, June 13, 2015))

Abstract
Background: Breastfeeding mothers experience widely different durations of breastfeeding amenorrhea. Some have a first menses by three months; others one or two years later. Research studies, both prospective and retrospective, were reviewed to determine if breastfeeding patterns affect the duration of breastfeeding amenorrhea. Studies from the 1940s up to the 21stth century show that only frequent suckling provides a significant delay of fertility.

The type called ecological breastfeeding provides, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea.

Conclusion: Breastfeeding types need to be defined. The Church should promote and teach ecological breastfeeding as a desirable option for natural family planning. Eco-breastfeeding involves no abstinence, offers many benefits to mother and baby, is ecologically sound, and provides extended natural infertility. God does have a natural plan for spacing babies.

Continue reading document “Talk at Natural Family Planning Conference, Milan, June 13, 2015;Delivered by David F. Prentis” here 

Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Venous Thrombosis

In a study published in the journal The Linacre Quarterly, Dr. Lynn  Keenan and collaborators did a systematic review the literature to determine  the risk of objectively confirmed Venous Thrombosis with the use of Hormonal contraceptives  in healthy women compared to nonusers.

The authors searched 1962 publications and identified 15 publications that fit the criteria and were  included.

The researchers found the following results.

1.Users of oral contraception with levonorgesterol had increased risk of VT by a range of 2.79–4.07.

2. The first-generation oral contraceptives had an increased risk of VT of 3.37–8.7. The second-generation oral contraceptives had an OR range of 2.79–4.07. Most studies of Third-generation oral contraceptives  were in the range of 4–9. Of those that separated gestodene from desogestrel, the gestodene range was 5.2–9.1, and the desogestrel was 4.9–9.1. Oral contraceptives with drospirinone had a risk of 6.3 (2.9–13.7).

3. The nonoral forms showed that depot-medroxyprogesterone carried an RR of 3.6 (1.8–7.1).

4. Levonorgestrel intrauterine devices did not increase risk.

5. Etonogestrel/ethinyl estradiol vaginal rings increased the risk of VT by 6.5. Norelgestromin/ethinyl estradiol patches increased risk of VT by 7.9. Etonogestrel subcutaneous implants by 1.4 and depot-medroxyprogesterone by 3.6.

6. The risk of fatal VT was increased in women aged fifteen to twenty-four by 18.8-fold.

The authors of the study concluded  “current hormonal contraceptives carry a three- to nine fold risk of VT compared to nonusers. Third-generation contraceptives are about twice the risk of the other generations. Combined HC vaginal rings and transdermal patches carry a six- to eightfold risk. Obesity can double the risk compared to normal weight. Use during the first year carries the greatest risk, especially in women under age thirty, where the risk increases thirteenfold.”

Informed consent is needed to provide women with information on the medical risks of oral contraceptives. Women should be made aware of these risks when choosing family planning. Abstinence or fertility awareness-based methods are licit, safe, and effective options for women.

‘The art of the possible’: How science fiction captures the pro-life message

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“The Martian Chronicles” author Ray Bradbury once said, “I define science fiction as the art of the possible.” And sometimes, science fiction provides us with a picture of possibilities in the form of pro-life themes found in unexpected places.

Unlikely sources

“The Pre-Persons” is a little-known science fiction short story published in 1974 in the wake of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that made abortion legal in all 50 states. The story takes place in a dystopian United States where abortion is legal not just for preborn children, but also for children under the age of 12 who are unable to comprehend algebra.

As the plot goes, when one adult male sees a group of children about to be taken to the abortion facility, he insists on being taken with the children, claiming he has forgotten how to do algebra. Naturally, this creates quite a stir when he arrives, forcing the administrator and the staff into a quandary as the man insists that he, too, meets the qualifications to be aborted. Soon, the administration decides to let the man and the children go, in an acknowledgement of the humanity of the entire group.

The pro-life themes are quite prevalent throughout the story, showing the humanity of all the characters involved with the plot. Anyone who reads a copy is likely to think that a pro-life advocate penned it — but they would be wrong.

Philip K. Dick was the writer for many groundbreaking science-fiction stories. His novella, “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep,” would go on to become the basis for the hit film “Blade Runner” and its sequel “Blade Runner 2049.” Likewise, his writings such as “Total Recall,” “The Minority Report,” and “The Adjustment Bureau” have all gone on to become major motion pictures. Dick helped to define cyberpunk and is considered one of the best sci-fi writers in the United States.

Philip K. Dick (Screenshot: YouTube)

What readers might not know is that he also is the author of “The Pre-Persons,” which first appeared in the pages of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” and would go on to be reprinted in anthologies of Dick’s works. However, as his stories gained more notoriety, “The Pre-Persons” slowly vanished from the collections with the last major U.S. reprint being in 2014.

It is no secret that pop culture is plagued with pro-abortion content. From dystopian tales like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to comedies like ‘Shrill,’ the pendulum tends to swing away from the pro-life message. However, “The Pre-Persons” is no outlier. I would make the case that science fiction, even accidentally, is predisposed to being pro-life.

Exploring the possibilities of life

Science fiction is all about the unknown. Even subgenres like steampunk, time-travel, and cyberpunk explore the unknown world to find new adventures. They show the potential and the possibilities that humanity has in making new discoveries. The pro-life message is all about giving preborn children the chance to live — the result being to find their own life adventures, so to speak.

In the episode “Evolution” in season three of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher accidentally creates a form of sentient microscopic robots after they are exposed to the Enterprise’s computer core. At first, a guest on the starship insists they be destroyed, likening them to “insects,” but the crew decides to defend the new life forms and eventually allows them to speak through the android crew member, Data. Their request is simple: “let us live.” In the end, the Enterprise crew leaves the robotic beings on an uninhabited planet that they can make their own.

Star Trek: The Next Generation “Evolution” (Screenshot: YouTube)

It is unknown whether Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry or any of his successors writing Star Trek episodes were at all pro-life. That being said, the analogy is clearly there. The microscopic robots have no voice to speak for themselves, one person insists they be “aborted,” but the crew gives them a chance at life — and they flourish.

Another example of a pro-life ethic displayed in sci-fi is the Netflix thriller “I Am Mother,” in which a robot raises a young girl to eventually take her place and restore humanity after it was wiped out in a catastrophic event. The girl soon realizes that the robot has other sinister motives, but it is the undertones that are important. When we see tubes of preborn human beings gathered in the robot’s lair, it is made clear that these children are alive and that they will eventually become a new population for Earth.

While, again, there is no evidence that the filmmakers are closeted pro-life advocates, it is hard to miss such a clear message that these children are not mere “clumps of cells,” — they are humanity’s future.

Netflix’s “I Am Mother” (Screenshot: YouTube)

This perspective on the pro-life themes found in science fiction is, of course, up for debate. Yet, the reasoning is there. When we approach science fiction, we see new galaxies, advanced technology, intrepid explorers, and brave men and women pushing past their limits into futuristic adventures. You cannot see a galaxy, build equipment, or map new worlds without first recognizing that life, from its beginning moments, is the greatest adventure.

A child in the womb is a human being who is simply growing and being prepared for all of the adventures and possibilities to come.

The Negative Effects of the Pill

The Pill: A Hormonal Method of Birth Control

The class of hormonal methods of birth control include birth control pills; implants such as Norplant, Jadelle and Implanon; injectables such as Depo-Provera and Lunelle; intrauterine devices (IUDs), patches and rings, and, of course, the class of abortion pills and so-called emergency “contraception,” which includes Cytotec, ellaOne, Mifegyne, Mifeprix, Plan B and Misoprostol.

All of these contain either one or a combination of artificial progestins and artificial estrogens.1

 

Health Issues Caused Hormonal Contraception

Though feminist groups and the mainstream media typically present hormonal contraceptives as a boon for women, they overlook the serious side effects reported in mainstream scientific literature, either through deliberate intent or negligence. Women who regularly ingest the powerful steroids in all modern hormonal methods of birth control will find that they usually suffer a wide range of side effects.

negative effects of the pill

This should come as no surprise since hormonal birth control methods such as “the Pill” are listed as carcinogens (causes of cancer) by their own manufacturers.2

The patient information pamphlets for hormonal birth control methods list a long range of side effects, including:3

  • Heart attacks
  • Cancers
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Sudden total or partial blindness
  • Pulmonary embolisms
  • Early unintended abortion
  • High blood pressure
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Abdominal discomfort, bloating, and pain
  • Gall bladder problems, including gallstones
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Long-term hormonal regulation problems
  • Ectopic pregnancies
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Elevated potassium levels
  • Migraines or severe headaches
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Breast pain and swelling
  • Changes in menstruation patterns, e.g., PMS and dysmenorrhea
  • Acne
  • Rashes
  • Stroke
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of libido
  • Fatigue
  • Significant weight gain
  • Fatal blood clots

 

One of the most serious negative effects of the Pill and other hormonal methods of birth control is the increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots that can potentially be fatal.

According to the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmaco-therapeutics, some versions of the Pill increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis up to eight-fold:4

Among the other various negative effects of the hormonal methods is difficulty regulating a woman’s testosterone levels even when she no longer uses the method. Researchers have found that abnormally low amounts of unbound testosterone caused by the use of the Pill (or other methods of hormonal birth control) persist after women cease using it. Women’s bodies use testosterone, as men’s do, to regulate sexual function, though in far lower amounts. Report coauthor Dr. Irwin Goldstein clarified: “This work is the culmination of 7 years of observational research in which we noted in our practice many women with sexual dysfunction who had used the oral contraceptive but whose sexual and hormonal problems persisted despite stopping the birth control pill.”5

 

Primary Concern: Cancer

negative effects of the pill include breast cancerThe hormonal methods of birth control increase the risk of cancer in women of childbearing age.

When taking hormonal contraceptives, “teenagers are especially vulnerable to breast cancer risk because their breasts are growing,” reports the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute. The Institute also says that although the Pill lowers the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, “according to the American Cancer Society, out of [a random selection of] 100 women with cancer, 31 have breast cancer, 6 have endometrial cancer and only 3 have ovarian cancer, so it is not a good ‘trade-off’ in risk.”

The National Cancer Institute confirms this view by stating that “studies have provided consistent evidence that the risks of breast and cervical cancers are increased in women who use oral contraceptives, whereas the risks of endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancers are reduced.”6

 

Psychological Impacts

Elizabeth Lee Vliet, MD, a women’s health specialist and the author of It’s My Ovaries, Stupid!, has studied the birth control pill’s negative impacts on women’s moods, with a particular emphasis on high-progesterone formulations. She found that they “might even bring about the need for antidepressants: The Pill screws up a woman’s mood and libido, and then she ends up on Prozac.”7

Dr. Vliet’s opinion is reinforced by the manufacturers of the hormonal methods themselves. Their patient information pamphlets list depression and nervousness as psychiatric disorders caused by their methods.8

These methods directly influence the hormonal cycle in women, but their impacts go far beyond mood swings. One of the most interesting studies done on the health impacts of the hormonal methods found that they may cause women to begin a relationship with the wrong men.

A study published in the August 2008 edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that when women smelled the T-shirts worn by men, they were attracted to more genetically dissimilar men before going on the Pill, and more genetically similar men after going on it.

As evolutionary psychologist Craig Roberts, one of the researchers, explains, “Not only could [genetic] similarity in couples lead to fertility problems but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odor perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners.”9

This fascinating study has thus found that the negative effects of the Pill are not just physical, but social as well, and may subtly influence a woman into being attracted to “Mr. Wrong.”

 

Environmental Poisoning

Much of the female hormonal content in these birth control methods is excreted via urine and ends up in rivers and lakes. Scientists are finding ever-greater numbers of “intersex” animals in aquatic environments that could lead to a collapse in fish and other populations, followed by a collapse in the populations of animals dependent upon them.

In 2004, The Washington Post reported that 79% of the male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River are growing eggs.10 In certain places, said the Post, “100% of the male fish had some female characteristics.”

 

Environmental Effects of the Pill: 79% of Male Smallmouth Bass in the Potomac Growing Eggs

A later Washington Post article described how scientists said the cause “is probably some pollutant created by humans — perhaps a farm chemical, or treated sewage, which can contain human hormones or residue from birth-control pills.” The later Post article reported that scientists think the problem is caused by a mixture of hormone and hormone-mimicking pollutants and have found negative effects on female fish as well.11

Iain Murray, author of The Really Inconvenient Truths, wrote on National Review Online, “By any standard typically used by environmentalists, the pill is a pollutant. It does the same thing, just worse, as other chemicals they call pollution.”

 

Early Abortion

Though the hormonal methods of contraception, including the Pill, appear to act the great majority of the time in preventing conception by suppressing ovulation and inhibiting sperm transport through the woman’s body, at other times they cause abortion by preventing or disrupting the implantation of an already-conceived child.

In some women, the Pill suppresses ovulation completely. But if the method fails, conception may follow and the user may feel that because she intended not to have a child, and because “technology failed her,” that she is entitled to a surgical or medical abortion.

 

Conclusion

The negative effects of the hormonal methods range from headaches and hair loss to fatal diseases such as cancer and deep-vein thrombosis. They also impact other people and society in general through psychological problems of the users and the environmental pollution they cause. In summary, these methods not only harm women, they harm the rest of us as well.

Want to know more? Try this video:

 

HLI’s Brian Clowes contributed substantially to this article.

 

Endnotes

[1] The chemicals used in hormonal methods of birth control commonly include one of about a dozen different artificial progestins — cyproterone acetate, dienogest, desogestrel, drospirenone, ethynodiol diacetate, etonogestrel, gestodene, levonorgestrel, medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), norelgestromin, norethindrone, norethindrone acetate and norgestrel. All of the methods (except for the progestin-only minipill and some other methods such as IUDs, implants and abortion pills) also include the artificial estrogens ethinyl estradiol or estradiol cypionate. See the patient information pamphlets for each method to determine the exact combination of hormones they contain.

[2] Review of 1,346 patient information pamphlets on various hormonal methods of birth control distributed by the manufacturers. The National Cancer Institute (NIC) states, “The risks of breast and cervical cancers are increased in women who use oral contraceptives, whereas the risks of endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancers are reduced.”

[3] This example is Janssen Pharmaceuticals, “Micronor®” Oral Contraceptive Tablets, May 2020. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, “Highlights of Prescribing Information: Yasmin,” April 2012.

To see the patient information pamphlet for any hormonal birth control method, visit the National Institute for Health’s DailyMed website.

[4] Kiran G. Piparva and Jatin G. Buch. “Deep Vein Thrombosis in a Woman Taking Oral Combined Contraceptive Pills.” Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, Volume 2, Number 3 [July-September 2011], pages 185 and 186.

[5] Claudia Panzer, M.D., et.al. “Impact of Oral Contraceptives on Sex Hormone‐Binding Globulin and Androgen Levels: A Retrospective Study in Women with Sexual Dysfunction.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 3, Issue 1 [January 1, 2006], pages 104 to 113.

[6] National Cancer Institute. “Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk.” February 22, 2018. It should be noted that the National Cancer Institute also says that breast cancers and cervical cancers are much more common than endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancers.

[7] Rachael Combe, M.D. “Sexual Chemistry.” Elle, September 2005.

[8] Janssen Pharmaceuticals, “Micronor®” Oral Contraceptive Tablets, May 2020.

[9] University of Liverpool. “Contraceptive Pill Influences Partner Choice.” ScienceDaily, August 13, 2008.

[10] David A. Fahrenthold. “Male Bass in Potomac Producing Eggs.” The Washington Post, October 15, 2004.

[11] David A. Fahrenthold. “‘Human Activity’ Blamed for Fish Ills.” The Washington Post, February 8, 2008, page B03.

Women in India know how to regulate family size naturally, thanks to Mother Teresa

 

Recently, Live Action News reported that as part of a broader national conversation about population control, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is considering implementing coercive population control measures that would strongly incentivize couples who have just one child, and directly penalize couples who have more than two children.

While the case for a need for population control in India as a country is very weak due to a total fertility rate that is already below replacement level, critics of coercive measures correctly noted that in areas where women are more educated, the fertility rate drops naturally. Teaching women in poverty about fertility awareness is a form of education that helps them plan their families without the bodily harms that many experience from hormonal birth control, and which can be particularly dangerous for poor women unable to access follow-up care.

Mother Teresa on “throwaway culture”

The Missionaries of Charity, an order of religious sisters founded by the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta, have for decades successfully taught women in Calcutta and throughout India to chart their cycles for pregnancy achievement or avoidance through the symptothermal method of natural family planning (NFP). Mother Teresa saw natural family planning as the antidote to a “throwaway culture” that views children and people in general as problems rather than as unique and unrepeatable gifts.

She commented in a 1994 address to U.S. legislators at the National Prayer Breakfast, “I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception.”

She also drew a connection between contraception and abortion, saying, “In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.”

Every woman can learn

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity first embraced the Billings Ovulation Method in 1969, a form of the symptothermal method of NFP that utilizes both cervical mucus and temperature observations, after a woman trained in the method applied to join the religious order. An undated handbook put out by the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta sometime during the 1990s entitled “Natural Family Planning and Family Life Education” reported that “12,000 couples are successfully receiving instruction and have been able to rear their families in dignity and happiness.”

While pregnancy avoidance effectiveness statistics for the various methods of NFP can be notoriously hard to come by because many women use barrier methods such as condoms during their fertile time, a 1993 study in the British Medical Journal found that 19,843 women practicing the symptothermal method with abstinence during the fertile time (as taught by the Missionaries of Charity) “had a pregnancy rate approaching zero.” The official website about Mother Teresa maintained by the Missionaries of Charity reports that natural family planning is taught to this day.

The success of the Missionaries of Charity in teaching poor women to use NFP is a reminder that women of every socioeconomic status can learn the natural patterns of fertility and infertility within their own bodies, and they can utilize that information to plan their families in a manner that respects the dignity of all human life.

Potential for Embryo Formation and Loss during the Use of Hormonal Contraception

A recent  review article published in the journal The Linacre Quarterly evaluated “whether there is evidence that ovulation can occur in women using hormonal contraceptives and whether these drugs might inhibit implantation”.

The authors reviewed “English-language research articles that focused on how hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill, may affect very early human embryos. The authors found that abnormal ovulation, or release of an egg followed by abnormal hormone levels, may often occur in women using hormonal birth control.

This may increase the number of very early human embryos who are lost before a pregnancy test becomes positive.

For women who are thinking about using hormonal birth control, this is important information to consider”.

 

Celebrate grandparents

“Grandparents are the ring linking generations, to transmit to young people the experience of life and faith.”
Pope Francis (2021)

 

In January 2021, after praying the Angelus, Pope Francis declared the fourth Sunday in July as World Day for Grandparents. The date has been chosen to be near the liturgical memorial (July 26) of Saints Anne and Joachim, grandparents of Jesus. Since the date of the memorial falls within the week devoted to raising awareness of Natural Family Planning and Church teaching which support its use in marriage due to the anniversary of Humanae vitae (July 25), it is appropriate for all NFP Week celebrations to include reflection upon the vital role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren.

For more information about World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, please visit the Vatican website.

Scores of women share stories of ‘excruciating’ pain from abortifacient IUDs, dismissal from doctors

July 20, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A recent article in the Washington Post’s women’s newspaper The Lily provides several accounts of women enduring agonizing pain after having intrauterine devices (IUDs) inserted, most of whom were dismissed by their doctors.

The IUD is a contraceptive tool. According to IUD manufacturer Mirena, IUDs prevent pregnancy by “thickening cervical mucus, preventing sperm from entering the uterus, inhibiting sperm movement so it’s more difficult to reach and fertilize an egg.”

It can also work as an abortifacient by thinning the lining of the uterus and preventing the embryo from attaching to the uterus. The copper IUD causes an inflammatory reaction which is toxic to sperm and eggs as well as to the fertilized embryo, thereby causing abortions.

Many obstetricians warn their patients of potential discomfort after the IUD insertion procedure, including irregular cramping. However, many women reported extreme pain which forced them to take medication and use other non-pharmaceutical methods to deal with the pain.

The Lily asked women to share their testimonies. One hundred thirty-one women responded, most of whom recounted severe pain either during the procedure or after they received their IUD.

The article cites gynecologist and Planned Parenthood associate medical director Stacy De-Lin. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion chain. De-Lin claimed the “vast majority of her patients who use the IUD are thrilled with their experience,” but many said that they felt ignored or overlooked by doctors who refused to adequately address their pain and were unwilling to remove the IUDs to relieve it.

Danielle Petermann, a 48-year-old woman who has had an IUD since 2013, said, “There are enough tales of discomfort that go beyond just taking an Advil or Tylenol that I think there should be more information available.”

After receiving her IUD, another woman, Tiffany Washington, returned to her doctor because of intense pain that forced her to spend two days in bed. The nurse in the office reportedly rolled her eyes at Washington, asking, “Back so soon?”

This caused Washington to reconsider her decision and to determine to attempt to endure the pain. However, after a few more weeks, she visited a local Planned Parenthood abortuary and had the device removed.

Many other women recounted stories of doctors dismissing their complaints and instead telling them to continue with the IUDs. One doctor advised her patient to remove the IUD herself.

Another woman, Valerie Johnson, recounted her doctor dismissing her extreme pain, only to realize weeks later that the IUD had perforated her uterus and lodged itself in a fat deposit.

She went into surgery a few days later. “I tend to defer to the experts,” Johnson said. “I wish I had been a stronger advocate for myself when my pain was dismissed.”

Pro-lifers have long noted that most gynecologists prioritize contraception over solving women’s underlying health concerns, and that most forms of contraception – including “the pill” and IUDs – have the capacity to induce very early abortions.

Why should ‘choice’ only mean abortion?

July 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Many women choosing a medical abortion (Mifegymiso in Canada) change their minds having taken the first pill.

Abortion Pill Reversal has been developed to assist these women who want to save their children from the effects of the first pill in this protocol (Mifepristone).

Records indicate that so far, 112 Canadian women have contacted the Abortion Pill Rescue Network for information on stopping an ongoing chemical abortion, with 57 choosing to undergo the abortion pill reversal procedure. Nine of these women have reported successful interventions with one mother agreeing to provide her testimony.

Abortion Pill Rescue believes there are many more Canadian babies alive whose mothers have not yet reported back their success stories.

The message that Alliance for Life Ontario is conveying to Canadian women is that there is a safe, effective (64% to 68%) method that may save their children if they have second thoughts after starting the Mifegymiso process.

It seems Canadian abortion advocates do not want women to know that this second chance at “choice” exists, as they are currently engaged in a campaign to silence the message that Alliance for Life Ontario is providing for these women.

In April 2021, MP Pam Damoff called our facts “dangerous misinformation” in Parliament. This is an outrageous lie, but parliamentary privilege protects her from the consequences of that lie. Our Facebook page has been taken down after erroneous complaints, our Google ad campaign has been limited, and now our website abortionpillreversal.ca is being attacked with complaints being made to Health Canada. Since this Health Canada avenue did not work, we are awaiting possible complaints to the Ontario Ministry of Health and the College of Physicians of Ontario from the so-called “pro-choicers.”

Abortion Pill Reversal is being offered around the world with 2,000 little ones saved to-date. Women deserve to know the truth about this second chance at choice and that there are physicians trained and willing to help them try to save their children using similar methods to those used for the last 50 years to assist in the prevention of miscarriage.

However, the politicization of abortion and medical science has world medical bodies, including those in Canada, expressing opposition to the use of progesterone protocols to save these tiny children from the effects of abortion drugs. Physicians are being hauled up before kangaroo courts to explain why they are using drugs “off-label” to save a life – and yet these same medical bodies appear to have no problem with the use of drugs “off-label” to kill a child in the womb.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has reported to Alliance for Life Ontario that a total of 45,363 prescription claims from Canadian pharmacies for Mifegymiso were made between August 10, 2017 and December 31, 2020. Yet we found no sign of these in the official abortion statistics for Ontario released from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

And the 45,363 does not include women receiving Mifegymiso in hospitals or prescriptions paid in cash or by another insurance rather than OHIP.

A final and outrageous fact is that a small study, ostensibly undertaken to prove Abortion Pill Reversal does not work ended up proving that it does and yet the authors had the audacity to claim the opposite of their results.

The study was abandoned because the Mifepristone caused extremely heavy bleeding in three participants, two of whom were in the placebo group and had not been given progesterone. The woman who had the progesterone did not experience such traumatic bleeding.

This study also proved that the progesterone protocol actually had an 80% success rate in maintaining the pregnancy in women who received progesterone without the second abortion drug and a 40% success rate in those who received both abortion-inducing drugs.

We believe that women who decide to have an abortion do not give up their right to the truth. Why does “choice” always have to mean abortion?

Below is Alliance for Life Ontario’s petition to Health Ministeer Patty Hajdu (click HERE to sign it):

To Health Minister Patty Hajdu:

Whereas: Women deserve a second chance at choice, and

Whereas A 2018 peer reviewed study showed positive results for Abortion Pill Reversal, establishing its effectiveness 64%-68% of the time, its safety for women; no increase in birth defects, and a lower preterm delivery rate than the general population, and

Whereas 2,000 pre-born children’s lives were saved in 2020 by Abortion Pill Reversal, and

Whereas Women who decide to have an induced abortion do not give up their right to the truth, and

Whereas, we know of at least 9 Canadian babies who are living today because of the abortion pill reversal procedure, and

Be it resolved that, any Canadian woman requesting Mifegymiso, must be provided Abortion Pill Reversal Procedure contact information, should she wish a second chance at choice after beginning the Mifegymiso abortion procedure.


Can Natural Family Planning help some couples conceive?

A recent study published in the journal Human Fertility looked into the effectiveness of a  fertility-awareness method in achieving pregnancy. The study particularly observed factors associated with the achievement of pregnancy and the usefulness of the mucus pattern, in the context of infertility.

The authors of the study identified 384 eligible women who attended 17 Australian Billings Ovulation Method® and were achieving a pregnancy. Pregnancy was achieved by 240 couples (62.5%) who received instruction to identify mucus symptom observations after a follow-up of two years maximum.

The participants kept a diary record of observations of vulvar sensation and vaginal discharge following the Billings Ovulation Method®  criteria. A changing pattern of vulvar wetness or slippery sensation indicated hormonal activity and potential fertility. The authors stratified “low pregnancy potential” and “high pregnancy potential” according to mucus symptom observations.  Pregnancy rates were ∼30% higher in the high pregnancy potential” group (44.4% versus 72.3%). Also the “high pregnancy potential” group achieved pregnancy in a  shorter period of time (4.2 versus 6.4 months).

In conclusion, these findings indicate that the use of fertility awareness methods helps women to identify critical biomarkers of fertility that may be used to achieve a pregnancy. These methods “provide a rapid, reliable and cost-effective approach to stratifying fertility potential, including directing timely and targeted investigations/management, and is accessible for women who may be remote from primary or specialist care”.

 

 

Does last contraceptive method used impact the return of normal fertility?

obgm0330110_evidence_holfer

According to a prospective observational study of more than 17,000 women that evaluated fecundability after stopping contraception the answer is YES.

The authors found hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) users had slightly increased fecundability compared with users of barrier methods.

There was no difference in fecundability for users of copper IUDs, implant, oral contraception, patches, rings, or natural methods compared with barrier methods.

Users of injectable contraceptives experienced the longest delay in return of normal fertility, about 5 to 8 menstrual cycles.

Responsible Parents Are Open to Life

Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain

Responsible-Parents-are-Open-to-Life-Sartain.pdf (usccb.org)

In an often-quoted and often-misunderstood section of the letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul begins a passage about wives and husbands with these words: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:21ff)

In the late fourth century, St. John Chrysostom suggested that young husbands should say
to their wives:

I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us . . . I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you. (Homily on Ephesians 20,8).

John captured well Paul’s teaching that wives and husbands are to be subordinate to one another–in other words, they are to consider the other’s good as of greatest importance, they are to sacrifice for one another as Christ himself has done, and as a couple they are to see themselves as subject to Christ. The concept of mutual subordination is a way of expressing the particular kind of love which characterizes Christian marriage, which is a union of loves so complete that the two become one.

In the Roman Catholic Church, it is ordinarily understood that husband and wife are ministers of God’s grace and confer on one another the sacrament of matrimony by declaring their consent before the Church. They are chosen instruments of God in one another’s lives–and not just the day of the wedding, but until death do us part. They are literally to help one another get to heaven! Moreover, their vocation entails not only being one in love for each other but also 2 being God’s instruments as a couple, most especially instruments of his creative power in giving life to children. Their love looks beyond itself and seeks to raise up new lives.

These two meanings or values of Christian marriage–the unitive and procreative–are intimately, inseparably linked; they cannot be divided without affecting the couple’s spiritual life and compromising their marriage and the future of their family. In fact, if a person enters marriage with the deliberate intention to exclude children from the marriage, the consent is invalid. Just as the persons of the Trinity are fruitful in love for one another and in creation, so the love of husband and wife is intended to be fruitful in love and offspring. Married couples are cooperators in the love of God the creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters.

Being cooperators and interpreters of the creative love of God carries both extraordinary joys and extraordinary responsibilities. An especially intimate and personal responsibility of every couple is making decisions about the regulation of births. Just as the crown of creation was human life, so the supreme gift of marriage is a human person, and the vocation of husband and wife entails honoring this capacity of their love with special care.

The Church does not teach that couples should have a certain number of children, but it does offer teaching about responsible parenthood, which can be summarized in these five points:
1. Husbands and wives have a responsibility to understand and honor the wisdom of the body, including its biological processes.
2. Humans share certain instincts and passions, and Christians are to guard and control them through reason and will.
3. Taking into consideration the physical, economic, psychological and social conditions of their marriage, couples exercise responsible parenthood by a prudent and generous 3 decision to raise a large family, or by a decision (for serious reasons and made according to the moral law) to avoid a new birth for the time being, or even for an indefinite period.
4. Responsible parenthood has its roots in the truth about right and wrong established by God, and spouses have a duty to inform their consciences and make decisions according to this truth. Husbands and wives recognize their duties toward God, themselves, their family and society, and are called to maintain a proper set of priorities.
5. Offering their marriage in discipleship to the Lord Jesus, couples do not make purely arbitrary or subjective decisions regarding becoming parents but use the wisdom of God as their guide. As in every other aspect of their lives, Christian couples always remain open to God’s wisdom and providence regarding family life, including the size of their particular family. Since God brought them together and shares his love with them, he will always guide them along paths that are best for them.

Interwoven among these aspects of responsible parenthood is the understanding that the two great meanings or values of marriage–the unitive and procreative–are never separated. A love that is complete and faithful, a love which holds nothing back from the other, will remain open to Gods creative plan. After all, it is God’s love in the first place.
_________________________
Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain is the Archbishop of Seattle. This article is part of a six-part series
first published for the Arkansas Catholic, a publication of the Diocese of Little Rock. It is
reprinted here with permission.

The Malthusian fallacy Paul Krugman just fell for

Over the last decade, United States population growth was at its lowest rate since the 1930s, according to a report released by the US Census Bureau in April. Population was up by 7.4 percent over the previous decade, the slowest growth rate the US has seen since the Great Depression. (These findings are a bit surprising since 93 percent of American adults either would like children or already have them, and only 5 percent do not want children, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.)

The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had positive words to say about the census news. He wrote in a Times article recently, “Is stagnant or declining population a big economic problem? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, in a world of limited resources and major environmental problems there’s something to be said for a reduction in population pressure.”

By expressing a rosy attitude toward the waning of humankind’s proliferation on Earth, Krugman is joining a dubious tradition that has been ascendant since the 18th century.

“Paul Krugman at The Commonwealth Club” by commonwealth.club is licensed under CC BY 2.0

From Malthus to Krugman

The idea that a smaller human population is desirable on environmental grounds has been popular ever since the economist Thomas Malthus published his highly influential 1798 work, An Essay on the Principle of Population. Arguing that each plot of land could only yield so much produce, Malthus surmised that if population growth were to continue without drastic reduction, the vast majority of humanity would inevitably starve within a century of his writing.

Throughout the 19th century, Malthus’s predictions were conclusively disproved by widespread reductions in both poverty and food prices as the population continued to increase. But in the 1960s and 1970s, when the global population was roughly half what it is today, Malthusian ideas once again rose to global prominence. Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, for example, became a celebrity by inciting an international hysteria over population growth. His 1968 book The Population Bomb became a worldwide bestseller, and he got plentiful mainstream media exposure for his ideas, including over twenty appearances on NBC’s “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Ehrlich claimed that not just food, but virtually all natural resource supplies were at the brink of collapse.

His predictions included death by starvation for hundreds of millions before the end of the 1970s (including 65 million Americans), the essential doom of India in its entirety, and even the non-existence of England by the year 2000. Perhaps his grandest forecast, made in 1970, was that “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity” would arrive by 1985.

In the 21st century, population panic has shifted focus mostly to climate change. Environmentalists can now often be heard advocating smaller family sizes, or avoiding child conception altogether, in an effort to limit carbon emissions.

An article in The Guardian is titled, “Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children.” According to an NPR piece, “A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the biggest way to reduce climate change is to have fewer children.” And the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an essay titled, “Stabilize global population and tax carbon to reduce per-capita emissions,” in which it is argued that, “Tax and other economic incentives should be continuously reconsidered to make population stabilization more likely”.

Given the apocalyptic terms in which some of our most esteemed politicians and news outlets speak about the risks of climate change, these contemporary population doomsayers can hardly be considered less alarmist than Malthus and Ehrlich.

Hunger Versus Science

As you may have noticed, the predictions of Malthus and Ehrlich turned out to be epically off.

Food prices have been falling rapidly since Malthus made his predictions in 1798, and the share of the population living in absolute poverty has fallen even faster.

And according to research by Oxford University economist Max Roser, global per capita calorie intake increased nearly every year during the period about which Ehrlich made his predictions. Data show that between 1961 and 2013, per capita calorie intake increased from 2,196 kcal to 2,884 kcal—even while the world’s population nearly doubled.

What accounts for the radical improvements in global nutrition? The New York Times ran an article about the progress against world hunger since Ehrlich’s predictions. The author stated:

No small measure of thanks belonged to Norman E. Borlaug, an American plant scientist whose breeding of high-yielding, disease-resistant crops led to the agricultural savior known as the Green Revolution. While shortages persisted in some regions, they were often more a function of government incompetence, corruption or civil strife than of an absolute lack of food.

But Borlaug’s innovation was just one in a long trend of improvements to agricultural technology. Early that century, in 1909-1910, the Haber-Bosch process was invented, for which Haber and Bosch each earned a Nobel Prize in chemistry. Their process facilitated the creation of synthetic fertilisers, which revolutionised the capabilities of farmers worldwide and made it possible to feed a much larger population from the same amount of farmland.

Even throughout the nineteenth century, industrialisation was radically improving farmland efficiency. The political economist and historian Peter Kropotkin wrote in his 1892 book The Conquest of Bread about the game-changing impact greenhouses were having on agriculture:

And yet the market-gardeners of Paris and Rouen labour three times as hard to obtain the same results as their fellow-workers in Guernsey or in England. Applying industry to agriculture these last make their climate in addition to their soil, by means of the greenhouse.

Kropotkin noted,

Fifty years ago the greenhouse was the luxury of the rich. It was kept to grow exotic plants for pleasure. But nowadays its use begins to be generalized. A tremendous industry has grown up lately in Guernsey and Jersey, where hundreds of acres are already covered with glass — to say nothing of the countless small greenhouses kept in every little farm garden.

These are just a few of countless such examples of scientific and technological innovations revolutionising the ability of humankind to more resourcefully subsist within its environment.

The Ultimate Resource

Every new human will consume resources, produce carbon emissions, and pollute their environment to some degree. But every new human also comes with a human mind, the source of potential solutions to these problems and many others. Each new able body also contributes precious labour to the economy, contributing to the rearrangement of the world’s atoms into more useful configurations.

The people whose future existence Malthus feared would lead to mass starvation, in some cases, turned out to be the very people who would revolutionise agriculture and virtually every other productive industry.

Likewise, when Krugman’s fear of “limited resources and major environmental problems” leads him to speak positively of “a reduction in population pressure,” he assumes that the destructive capacities of future people are likely to outweigh their creative capacities. But as we have seen, the history of such predictions suggests precisely the opposite. The above-mentioned Lund University study accounts for the carbon emissions of future people, but it does not account for the creative visions of those people, nor can any study before the people exist.

Paul Ehrlich’s archnemesis, the economist Julian Simon, understood this fundamental flaw in Malthusian thinking. As he argued in the second edition of his 1980 book The Ultimate Resource,

Adding more people to any community causes problems, but people are also the means to solve these problems. The main fuel to speed the world’s progress is our stock of knowledge, and the brake is our lack of imagination. The ultimate resource is people – skilled, spirited, and hopeful people – who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit as well as in a spirit of faith and social concern. Inevitably they will benefit not only themselves but the poor and the rest of us as well.

If you want to increase resource abundance and have the climate engineered to your liking, perhaps consider having more children. Your future descendants may be the ones to grow up and create the knowledge required to usher in levels of prosperity that we have seldom dared to imagine.

This article has been republished with permission from Foundation for Economic Education.

Why Natural Family Planning Differs from Contraception

https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/awareness-week/upload/Why-NFP-Differs-from-Contraception-JPII.pdf

Pope John Paul II

In 1998 Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to Dr. Anna Cappella, director of the Center for
Research and Study on the Natural Regulation of Fertility at Rome’s Catholic University of the
Sacred Heart. The occasion was a convention commemorating Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s
1968 encyclical. Excerpts are reprinted below.

I hope that everyone will benefit from a closer study of the Church’s teaching on the truth of the act of love in which spouses become sharers in God’s creative action.

The truth of this act stems from its being an expression of the spouses’ reciprocal personal giving, a giving that can only be total since the person is one and indivisible. In the act that expresses their love, spouses are called to make a reciprocal gift of themselves to each other in the totality of their person: nothing that is part of their being can be excluded from this gift. This is the reason for the intrinsic unlawfulness of contraception: it introduces a substantial limitation into this reciprocal giving, breaking that “inseparable connection” between the two meanings of the conjugal act, the unitive and the procreative, which, as Pope Paul VI pointed out, are written by God himself into the nature of the human being (HV, no. 12).

Continuing in this vein, the great pontiff rightly emphasized the “essential difference” between contraception and the use of natural methods in exercising “responsible procreation.” It is an anthropological difference because in the final analysis it involves two irreconcilable concepts of the person and of human sexuality (cf. Familiaris Consortio, no. 32).

It is not uncommon in current thinking for the natural methods of fertility regulation to be separated from their proper ethical dimension and to be considered in their merely functional aspect. It is not surprising then that people no longer perceive the profound difference between these and the artificial methods. As a result, they go so far as to speak of them as if they were another form of contraception. But this is certainly not the way they should be viewed or applied.

On the contrary, it is only in the logic of the reciprocal gift between man and woman that the natural regulation of fertility can be correctly understood and authentically lived as the proper expression of a real and mutual communion of love and life. It is worth repeating here that “the person can never be considered as a means to an end, above all never a means of ‘pleasure.’ The person is and must be nothing other than the end of every act. Only then does the action correspond to the true dignity of the person.” (cf. Letter to Families, no. 12).

The Church is aware of the various difficulties married couples can encounter, especially in the present social context, not only in following but also in the very understanding of the moral norm that concerns them. Like a mother, the Church draws close to couples in difficulty to help them; but she does so by reminding them that the
way to finding a solution to their problems must come through full respect for the truth of their love. “It is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ,” Paul VI admonished (HV, no. 29).

The Church makes available to spouses the means of grace which Christ offers in redemption and invites them to have recourse to them with ever renewed confidence. She exhorts them in particular to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is poured out in their hearts through the efficacy of their distinctive sacrament: this grace is the source of the interior energy they need to fulfill the many duties of their state, starting with that of being consistent with the truth of conjugal love. At the same time, the Church urgently requests the commitment of scientists, doctors, health-care personnel and pastoral workers to make available to married couples all those aids which prove an effective
support for helping them fully to live their vocation (cf. HV, no. 23-27).

 

Physician group condemns EU vote as an attack on preborn children

 

Doctors for Life, a pro-life lobby group, spoke out against the recent vote by the European Union Parliament in favor of the Matić Report, which defends abortion as a human right and puts pressure on pro-life member states to legalize abortion. The group called the report “another step in the efforts of the pro-abortion lobby to normalize this abhorrent practice in Europe and force it on member states.”

The Matić Report on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health, pressures pro-life member states of the EU to enact pro-abortion laws. Introduced by S&D MEP Fred Matić, it calls for guaranteed access to sexual and reproductive health. This includes not only abortion, but fertility treatments that often result in the destruction of human lives. The report also aims to end conscience protections for pro-life doctors and medical workers, forcing them to commit or participate in abortions.

“The report utilizes the same shrewd and misleading approach to force politicians and the public to acquiesce and submit to its conclusions by repeatedly conflating gender equality and basic human rights with abortion,” Doctors for Life said in a statement, according to the Times Malta.

“This rationale makes the rejection of abortion equivalent to an unwillingness to grant equality or essential human rights and is a strategy employed repeatedly to compel others to accept such proposals,” the group continued. “Of course, such a strategy necessitates the continued employment of euphemisms like reproductive rights and healthcare to sanitize the brutal reality of the intervention.”

That brutal reality is that abortion “unequivocally involves the intentional killing of a human life,” Doctors for Life said.  Each abortion procedure uses violence to end the life of a living, growing, preborn human being. Abortion is not health care.

Just 16 weeks in the womb

Doctors for Life was also critical of the report’s efforts to end conscience objections, stating that in countries in which abortion is legal, there are a significant number of physicians who are unwilling to partake in abortions. In parts of Italy, 90% of doctors refuse to carry out abortions, and in Ireland, 68% of doctors have said they would not commit abortions.

Deliberately killing human beings in the womb is not health care, and does not make women equal to men. All human beings, regardless of age or gender, are intrinsically equal. Forcing pro-life nations in the EU, or anywhere else in the world, to decriminalize abortion will not decrease poverty or child abuse, and it will not save women from oppression. Abortion is simply oppression redistributed to the most innocent.

To have kids or not: which decision do Americans regret more?

by James L. McQuivey

Should you have children? And if so, how many? Asking and answering these questions is not only deeply anguishing for many individuals but also bears on national and global well-being. Contemporary discussions of childbearing range from the writer who got a vasectomy due to climate change to the regular reports of declining fertility across the world, including the 4% decline in 2020 in the US.

Amid this discussion, The New York Times opinion writer Elisabeth Bruenig penned a moving essay about her personal experience as an outlier among her high-status, educated peers— she gave birth to her first child at 25 and, what’s more, she’s “not sorry she didn’t wait.” This simple notion, timed to coincide with Mother’s Day of all days, caused pandemonium. Among the various critiques of Bruenig’s lived experience were those who suggested that if we have to hear from women who love their children, we should also read more essays from women and men “who regret having children,” as writer Jill Filipovic suggested. Among the many replies were those like this, from @MAStirling, who wrote:

I have daughters so I’ve been pretty honest with them. I’ve encouraged them not to have children. They know I love them, but they also know that motherhood in our country is a prison sentence.

While the commentary focused on whether we should regret the decisions we make about having or not having children, no one presented the facts about how many of us actually do regret these decisions. Each person may have their own individual story to tell, but it turns out that the vast majority of people want to have children and, as we’ll show, more than a third wish they had more children than they currently have.

This is according to the second wave of the “U.S. Adult Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes Study,” a survey of 1,518 adults I designed and fielded in March 2021. Among the respondents, ranging in age from 18 to 74, 68% have at least one child. Another 19% have not had children nor want to have children, while the remaining 13% do not have children but still hope to. The fact that more than three-fourths of adults already have or want to have children should itself be evidence that something very fundamental is at work, likely the same biological predisposition that motivates all life on the planet.

But that fact could open the door to even more regret. If we’re physiologically bent on having children, perhaps we later regret the outcome, encumbering as it is upon our personal freedoms. Though some commenters on the Bruenig essay feel this way, it is not common. While the present study did not explicitly ask whether people regretted having children, it did approach a topic that is similar, asking those with children to agree or disagree with the statement, “I wish I had had fewer children.”

Just 14% of people with children (10% of all adults) agreed with the statement. And even with these, we don’t know whether they regret ever having children or just wish that they had fewer children. Either way, the maximum share of people who are not inclined toward joy in children is 29%, including those who don’t currently have children and those who don’t want to, as well as those who wish they’d had fewer. This is not close to a majority, but it is also not a trivial number.

Conversely, when asked if they wished for the opposite, if they agree that, “I wish I had or would still like to have more children,” 24% fall into the category of already having but still wanting more children. This is consistent with research shared on IFS in 2018 using Gallup data showing that women regularly wish to have more children than they do.

The final score? As shown in the figure below, 29% of U.S. adults either do not want to have children or wish they had fewer. A third (34%) have children and are happy with the number they have and another third—the largest group—wish they had more (37%), whether currently parents or not. In other words, those with no apparent regret or reluctance outnumber the rest by more than 2 to 1.

Of course, none of the aggregate statistics tell us what we should feel individually, nor should they compel someone’s personal choices. But this should give us pause as we consider whether we can so easily tell people that personal choices related to procreation are merely that, just personal choices, some of which we will regret and others we will not. For some reason, most of us really want to have kids. And for those that do, an astonishing 88% agree that “having children is one of the most important things I have done.” This suggests the joy far outweighs the regret.

This all suggests that our bodies are doing what they seem designed to do: motivating us to bond with mates and procreate. As I’ve previously written, people who want marriage and family are happier than those who do not. This includes singles who do not currently have a partner—their life satisfaction is predicted by their desire to bond and procreate independent of their current life situation.

Borrowing from the old Sinatra hit: “Regrets? I’ve had a few.” But having children is not one of them for the majority of Americans.

In March, 2021, the survey of US Adult Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes was fielded to a U.S. representative sample of adults ranging in age from 18 to 74. The outgoing sample was balanced by sex, age cohort, and U.S. Census region. Sample sourced from and data collection provided by Dynata, a global leader in first-party data and data services. The respondents were weighted back to the outgoing sample parameters for sex, age, marital status and region. Data were validated for internal consistency and compared for population representation to U.S. / Census data and GSS data for income, rates of marriage, and childbearing. The project was conceived, designed, executed, and paid for entirely by Dr. James McQuivey.

Republished with permission from the Institute for Family Studies.

Heavy Bleeding, Anxiety, and other Warning Signs Your IUD Is Not Good For You

 

Heavy Bleeding, Anxiety, and other Warning Signs Your IUD Is Not Good For You

After the copper IUD caused Tamara Wilder physical symptoms like sore tailbone and heavy bleeding, followed by more severe symptoms of debilitating anxiety, she founded IUD Awareness, a website with resources for women who have experienced adverse reactions to the IUD. Tamara now also serves on an online IUD support group and says it was finding other women’s stories that helped her find the cause of her health problems. Here is Tamara’s story.

I didn’t recognize the early warning signs when they started happening. Like so many of us, things were going on in my life, and so when I started feeling weird, which when I look back, was right away. Within days of having it inserted I was having a really sore tailbone. I couldn’t sit down for about three or four months without having pain. And I didn’t even identify that as an early warning sign until way later when I got on support groups and I started seeing other people mention it; but it was way at the very beginning.

And then I had a lot of heavy bleeding. I was warned that I would bleed more than usual for several months, and I was bleeding pretty heavily, so I told myself, “I just have to get through this.” And like many doctors, my naturopath said, “your body’s going to do weird things for a few months but you just gotta bear through it, but then it’s all going to calm down and this thing’s going to be great for you.”

But it wasn’t great for me.

This was the first time I’d put anything in my body or altered my body for birth control. And since I’ve joined the support groups and hear other women’s stories, and hear how many birth control types they’ve gone through and how many problems they’ve gone through, I feel incredibly lucky.

The copper IUD did not work for me. It was something that my body responded to negatively from the very, very beginning. And I still was trying to give it a try because my naturopath said it was great. I’d actually had it inserted at Planned Parenthood and they were so pro-IUD. And I remember in the first couple months I would call and say, “I’m bleeding a lot; I’ve sort of bled all month, and it hasn’t stopped.” (I bled about three weeks of every month that I had the IUD, and I would spot every week that I wasn’t heavy bleeding, so I really was constantly bleeding.)

And I was in a new relationship, which was very problematic; this was a bloody, bloody existence. That’s one of the things they tell you [with contraceptive devices]: you can have trouble-free sex, without worrying about getting pregnant. But if you’re bleeding all the time on the copper IUD, that doesn’t make sex very fun.

Ultimately, I had a very negative experience with the IUD, but it took me ten months to figure out what was going on. Even though my body reacted so negatively from the very beginning, looking back I can see the early warning signs. And for that reason, when I did finally make the connection and figured it out, I felt really driven.

From fog to clarity

I was very fortunate that I had a lot of support in my recovery. I was very fortunate that financially, my family helped me out and allowed me to not have to worry about finances for a year; they told me to just take care of my health. And so part of my healing process was getting the word out and telling people my story. Because when I was first trying to figure it out, five months in, I searched like crazy but could not find the information I needed; in fact, I found information that diverted me from what was going on.

So I just wanted to make that information available to people and make a place where stories could be told and people could find them. And so I founded IUD Awareness as a part of my healing process. On the support groups I was seeing so many people having to recover while they had children, while they were still working, while they were struggling on a daily basis—and all of us struggle on a daily basis to recover. So many of us have hard recoveries, but I was being so supported in my recovery and in my financial existence for my first year. So I felt what I needed to do was to put my time and energy into creating an entity that could help people.

The freedom found in IUD support groups

When I found the IUD Side Effects support group it was almost six years ago, and there were 1800 members. At the time there were three admins, and I became the fourth admin. Because it was growing so fast, that it was really overwhelming…

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We get about 100 member requests a week, which is our average. When a film comes out, or like when The Bleeding Edge came out all of a sudden, that went to 200 or 300 a week. And we lose a certain amount, so we’re gaining a net of about 50 members a week as a really constant growth rate, and we’re almost at 25,000 now, which is incredible.

Not everybody on the group has IUD side effects; many women are on the group because they’re looking for side effects. They feel like the IUD is working for them, but they’re trying to empower and educate themselves. And I am very supportive of that because if I had had that information, I would have been able to see the side effects that were plaguing me. Some women don’t see a problem, and they feel like it’s fine. But the majority of the women on the group have seen side effects, have had their lives devastated, have already removed the IUD, and/or are in recovery. We also have some women on the group who are considering getting the IUD, and they’re doing their own research and finding women’s real-life experiences instead of what I call propaganda, hearing all the good things instead of being told what can go wrong.

And we’re not saying on the support groups and on IUD Awareness that an IUD will always go wrong, but we’re saying that it’s going wrong more often than people realize. Because the stories aren’t being reported.

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Personally, after my experience and after reading all the stories, I do not think that IUDs are safe; I would never recommend them to anybody, but everybody needs to be able to make their own decisions. So by sharing our stories and real-life experiences, people can choose to take the risk, and realize that getting an IUD is actually a risky choice, despite being told it’s totally safe by the doctors who are promoting it to you. And if you do your research you realize it is not totally safe, that there are chances that it will go wrong—and when it goes wrong, it usually goes really wrong. Some people have minor problems, but the majority of people on the support group have huge problems… We’re trying to find people before they’re in that severe state so they don’t have to go through the depth of the health crisis that so many of us have.

Common threads in IUD side effects

One of the trends I see on the support group is people say “the doctor told me to keep it.”… They say, “it’s a foreign object in your body, your body’s going to react to it, but it will get used to it.” And my response to that is: our bodies will adapt to most anything, but that does not mean that the state that we end up in is a healthy, balanced state.

In the training that doctors are receiving, they’re being told don’t take it out too soon; if someone’s having problems with it, get them to hang in there; get them to have it for at least six to eight months before you will take it out. And so that’s why, so many of us, if our bodies are telling us from the very beginning that it’s not working for us, we go to the doctor, and the doctor, if they’re experienced with IUDs, they’ll say “you just have to hang in there.” And if they’re not experienced with IUDs, like my general practitioner, they’ll say, “there’s no way what is happening to you could be related to the IUD, it must be something else.”

My IUD and severe anxiety

In my case, I had worsening symptoms for five months that were taking me down in so many ways. My mental state was degrading really quickly and I didn’t realize what was going on because I never suffered from anxiety before. I’ve always been a very balanced person; I never had any depression or any anxiety. And so I just thought I was feeling tired; I just thought I was feeling stressed. But I was actually falling and running over the cliff and one day I just went over the cliff into the big pit of massive anxiety. And I had a breakdown.

I got diagnosed with sudden anxiety disorder and put on Ativan and then Paxil. My doctor kept increasing the doses of Paxil, and I was completely dysfunctional. Within five months of getting an IUD I went from running my own business, being a super independent person (I’m admired for my independence and my ability to handle anything, because I teach ancient living skills! I teach people how to survive in the woods!) and within five months, I collapsed completely into an agoraphobic, hiding person in a room in my parents’ house, and taking these anti-anxiety meds that were not doing anything. Totally suicidal. Totally not understanding, feeling disconnected, feeling like I was living on a different planet, like a foreign world. And it was a devastating thing. And that started five months after my IUD was inserted.

And for the next five months, I would try to figure it out; I would go online and search and I would try to find answers, and I wouldn’t find anything. Everything would say the copper IUD couldn’t cause these kinds of things. Everything was saying, “oh, it’s totally healthy” which is the propaganda I was finding in my searches. And my mind wasn’t together enough to go deep enough to find all the stories; everything I was finding at the time was pro-IUD. And so I kept saying “well the doctors are saying it can’t be related; I’m not finding anything on the Internet.” I’d find a few little things and then the doctor would say “well that’s just a hack.” And then he told my parents, “don’t let her use the Internet anymore because it’s increasing her anxiety.” And so I actually stopped searching.

About six or seven months in, I had just given up. My doctor just kept saying, “you just have to accept that this happens to women sometimes and you just need to adjust. There’s something you need to change in your life and you just need to adjust to this.”

Funnily enough he was right; the thing I needed to change in my life was I needed to get a foreign object that was poisoning me out of my body, and that made everything get better. But that wasn’t what he was talking about; he was talking about something in my brain.

And that is one of the trends that we on the support groups. And I don’t really see any changing trends; what I see on the support groups is everybody has different clusters of symptomatology. And so we have common clusters, and everybody’s clusters are slightly different, but we have common things that everybody sees. And to me, anxiety disorders and depression—either starting anew, or if you already have it, it getting worse and the things that used to work for you not working anymore—is the predominant thing. Almost everybody experiences some level of that, altering their body.

And I think it is something from what’s in the IUDs; a little bit probably toxicity issues of things that could be causing the anxiety, but I feel that for me, because it went away so quickly after removal—my debilitating anxiety was gone within twenty minutes of the IUD being removed from my body.

So for me it was a foreign object inside my body; I call it a body invasion issue. Our bodies respond to foreign objects being put into them, and the anxiety is the way that they respond in trying to tell you that something’s wrong. But what happened with me was I was being told that something was wrong, but I wasn’t looking in my body for the source, I was looking outside in my world for the source but I couldn’t find it. And the side effects almost keep us from seeing it.

Watch Natural Womanhood’s full interview with Tamara below.

To learn about safe and effective nonhormonal methods of fam

Parents enraged as Planned Parenthood school flyer promotes sex to 11-year-olds

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Parents in Tacoma, Washington, are reportedly furious after a Planned Parenthood flyer promoting sex among pre-teen children was distributed at Stewart Middle School. Yet in a statement provided by Tacoma Public Schools to the Post Millennial, the flyer was not part of the curriculum and should never have been sent home with students.

Eric Hogan, assistant director of secondary education at Tacoma Public Schools, told the Post Millennial that the flyer was only distributed to students at Stewart Middle School, and apologized for the mistake. “Previously, Planned Parenthood taught within our schools and supplied the flyer which was distributed to students,” his statement read. “We discovered a binder of curriculum materials was left behind for an incoming teacher to use for this year, and the flyer was in the binder. Not realizing the flyer wasn’t approved material, the teacher sent it home with students. Corrective action has been taken with this employee.”

Hogan added, “Planned Parenthood is no longer giving presentations within our schools.”

Copies of the flyer were posted on social media, and the information was beyond disturbing. Under the title, “Age of minority & consent for sex,” students were told “it is not a crime” if they have sex as young as 11 years old, as long as their sex partners are no more than two years older than they are.

Photo shared publicly on Diego Lopez’ Facebook page.

The flyer reads:

It is not a crime if you are…

  • 11 and have sex with somebody 2 years older or less.
  • 12 to 13 and have sex with somebody who is 3 years older or less.
  • 14 or 15 ad have sex with somebody who is 4 years older or less. 

… If you are 14 years and older, you do not need permission from your parent or guardian to get treated for STDs or HIV, or to get treatment…

You are allowed to get a prescription for birth control without your parent or guardian’s permission…

ABORTION – You do not need to get permission from your parent or guardian AT ANY AGE…

The flyer also explained how students could obtain condoms “at any age” and Plan B, explaining that they didn’t need their parents’ permission for that, either. The only sexual behavior discouraged on the flyer was sexting, which Planned Parenthood noted is illegal in Washington.

Letter from Tacoma Public Schools

Meanwhile, the flyer failed to point out that the consent laws in Washington merely mean the state will not prosecute; as the state points out, “[a]ge is just one of many factors involved in consent.” Emotional and psychological development should be considered as another factor of consent, which for an 11-year-old, raises many red flags. The preteen stage is a time when children are experiencing a lot of hormonal changes, and begin to not only desperately seek independence from their family, but begin to strongly rely on their peer groups instead. This, while perfectly normal, can easily cause pressure and coercion to have sex, with a child feeling that they must have sex in order to be accepted. Adding Planned Parenthood’s propaganda doesn’t help.

But Planned Parenthood’s brand of sex education has been known to go far beyond even what this flyer promotes, as Live Action’s Sex Ed investigation revealed. Planned Parenthood employees were secretly recorded promoting pornography, BDSM, whips, handcuffs, and other violent sexual behaviors and torture devices to teens, encouraging them to experiment and “Google whatever is in your head.”

Encouraging students to use birth control without their parents’ knowledge is also deeply problematic; an 11-year-old is unlikely to know if they have a pre-existing condition which could make hormonal birth control in particular more dangerous. But even more disturbing is the possibility of Planned Parenthood using birth control as a way to get secure pre-teens as future customers, for services other than just contraception.

Former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Treviño told 40 Days for Life that “contraception and abortion are two sides of the same coin,” and that selling promiscuity to young people creates a market for abortion.

“The more people use birth control and adopt a contraceptive mentality, the higher the odds that they’ll seek an abortion,” she explained. “Because, let’s face it, if they’re using birth control, a child is not part of the ‘plan.’ Abortion is the backup, so to speak, for contraceptive failure, misuse, or lack of self-control.”

Monica Kline, a former Planned Parenthood sex educator, agreed that Planned Parenthood intentionally sells sex to children, knowing that it will create future abortion clients.

This blatant effort to promote sex to children, who are too young to truly understand or consent, should never be permitted. Yet too often, Planned Parenthood is still welcomed in schools across the country, grooming them to become future paying clients who will learn to rely on the abortion corporation.

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The Birth Control Pill: Unintended Consequences

 

One of the most prominent features of the culture of death is its short-sightedness.  It puts grand plans into action and makes sweeping promises about how many lives will be saved or improved by its initiatives.  And then its architects are invariably shocked and surprised when a galaxy of negative unintended consequences quickly emerge, usually making the situation much worse than it was before.  To put it simply, the culture of death is entirely ignorant of sinful human nature.

The classic example of this absolute lack of foresight is the birth control pill.

From the very first day it was introduced, “family planning” experts hailed the Pill as the conclusive solution to “unwanted pregnancies.”  But continued promises of high efficiency, combined with the easy availability of abortion as a “backup,” inevitably led to widespread careless use and abuse of the Pill.  When the Pill failed to prevent pregnancy, many women felt entitled to an abortion because they believed that medical technology had failed them and that another type of medical technology was the “answer” to their problem.

Failure Rate of the Pill

Use of the Pill requires care and consistent attention.  Each cycle of pills must be taken in the proper order every day at about the same time.  So women often forget to take pills, take them at the wrong time, or lose them.  This is the major contributor to an incredible number of unintended pregnancies, especially among younger women.  U.S. women who are on the Pill experience nearly a million unintended pregnancies annually, and more than 40% of these occur among girls and women 15 to 24 years old.1

The method effectiveness of the Pill is 99.7% per year.  This percentage is extremely high, but it refers to the efficiency of the Pill when a woman is in excellent health and uses the Pill without error.  When user error and illness are factored in, the result is the actual, or “real world” user effectiveness rate.  In the case of the Pill, this is only 91% per year.2  This means that 9% of women on the Pill will become pregnant in any given year of use.  In other words, the Pill itself is responsible for only about 3% of all failures, and the users are responsible for the remainder.

The 91% “real world” effectiveness rate for the Pill still sounds high until we calculate the probability of a woman becoming pregnant over an extended period of time when using it. She has a:

  • 9% probability of becoming pregnant in the first year
  • One in four (25%) probability in three years
  • 38% in five years
  • 61% in ten years.3

In summary, if a sexually active girl of 15 starts using the Pill continuously, there is a nearly 50% chance that she will become pregnant by the time she is 22!

This statistic is verified by pro‑abortionists, including Dr. Christopher Tietze, who said, “Within 10 years, 20 to 50 percent of Pill users and a substantial majority of users of other methods may be expected to experience at least one repeat abortion.”4  Note that Tietze is speaking about repeat (second or more) abortions here.  These statistics are significant when one considers that one of the primary goals of school‑based clinics (SBCs) is to distribute contraceptives and abortifacients to teenagers without parental consent or knowledge.

These rates are in line with Alan Guttmacher Institute figures which show that half of all abortion patients thirty years ago were practicing contraception during the month in which they conceived.  Additionally, the majority of abortion patients who had stopped using a method prior to becoming pregnant said they had most recently used the Pill.4

The situation has not improved, despite decades of saturation propaganda campaigns by everyone from big pharma to Neofeminist groups.  A 2007 Marie Stopes International study found that 43% of aborting women were using the Pill when they got pregnant, and another 27% were using condoms.  And in 2014, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the largest chain of abortion mills in the United Kingdom, found that 27% of women obtaining abortions were on the Pill when they got pregnant, while 35% were using condoms.  BPAS Executive Director Ann Furedi confirmed what pro-lifers have always claimed when she acknowledged, “Ultimately women cannot control their fertility through contraception alone, and need accessible abortion services as a back-up for when their contraception lets them down.”

Dangers of Birth Control Pills

Even after the shift from high-dose to low-dose pills, United States federal courts classified the birth control as “unavoidably unsafe.”5  This means that implicit in a woman’s consent to use the Pill is an acknowledgement of physical risk ― even if she is not entirely informed of all (or any) of its dangers.

This legal classification means that women injured by the Pill have a much harder time recovering damages.  Dr. John Hildebrand, an expert in the field of human reproduction, estimated that more than 500 women die every year because of pill‑induced effects.  This startling number is confirmed by figures provided by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the world’s foremost abortions statistics analyzer) and one of the foremost abortionists in the United States, Warren Hern.  His textbook Abortion Practice contains figures that lead to the conclusion that more than 30,000 American women have died due to direct side effects of the Pill since it was adopted in the United States ― with a current average of 600 to 700 deaths per year.6

It is ironic indeed that the same pill that the radical feminists pushed so hard as part of their solution to illegal abortion deaths now kills five to seven times as many women per year as illegal abortions themselves did before Roe v. Wade.  And, with a few minor exceptions, these feminists do not breathe a word about it.

In 2010, major magazines, newspapers and pro‑abortion organizations celebrated fifty years of “The Pill” and trumpeted how it has freed women from “unwanted childbearing” and drudgery.  Perhaps they should tell that to the loved ones of the more than thirty thousand women who have died from the fatal side effects of the Pill.

The manufacturers of each of the more than 125 brands of birth control pill issue patient information pamphlets (PIPs) which give detailed information on each one.  These standardized forms each have sections entitled “Warnings and Precautions” and “Adverse Reactions,” which list anywhere from 50 to 67 side effects of the Pill.  The most serious of these include cardiovascular and breast problems.

The most dangerous and well‑documented side effects commonly associated with the Pill are heart attacks and strokes.  The eight‑year Nurse’s Health Study at Harvard Medical School found that Pill users are 250% as likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those who don’t use the Pill, probably because the Pill greatly increases blood clotting ability.  One of the major findings of the study was that women who get off the Pill have rates of cardiovascular disease equal to that of the general population after a period of one year.7  All of the patient information pamphlets produced by the manufacturers of the Pill confirm that the drug increases these risks.

Soon after the high-dose pills were phased out in favor of the low-dose regimen, the Pill came under intense scrutiny by researchers.  In 1988, scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania, and New York’s Memorial Sloan‑Kettering Cancer Center showed that the longer women took the Pill, the greater were their chances of contracting breast cancer.  The risk of developing breast cancer was found to be twice as great by age 45 for women who had used the Pill for less than ten years and four times as great for women who had used the Pill for greater than ten years.

After a decade of accumulating evidence, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified combined oral contraceptives as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1).  In 2005, the IARC confirmed this classification and has not changed it since.8

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed up this classification with the most comprehensive review of studies on the Pill-breast cancer link ever performed.  They found that 21 of 23 large, well-conducted studies found that there was an average of a 44% increased risk of breast cancer in women who were taking the Pill prior to their first pregnancy.

Indirect Dangers of Birth Control

We have seen that the birth control pill is so ineffective that it fails hundreds of thousands of times annually in the United States, leading to hundreds of thousands of surgical abortions.  We have also covered some of the more serious physical side effects inflicted upon women by the Pill, including more than 30,000 deaths and tens of thousands seriously injured since its introduction.

The indirect impacts of the Pill are much more diffuse, but are terribly damaging to society in general.  The Pill impacts not only women, but men and children.

Since its introduction, the Pill has contributed heavily towards sexual promiscuity, the increase of illegitimate births, and the degradation of marriage and the family.

1. Increased Promiscuity

Immediately after the Pill was introduced in the mid‑1960s, pre‑marital sex and cohabitation both almost doubled in only five years.  Currently, 48% of all couples living together are not married.  People of all ages (but especially teenagers) are having premarital sex more than ever before.

Wife‑swapping clubs, organized orgies, membership in sex addiction treatment organizations like Sexaholics Anonymous, hard‑core pornography, and “fantasy [sex] tours” to Far East nations have increased tremendously.

After witnessing two decades of this social carnage, the developers of the Pill admitted that its wide availability appeals strongly to those persons with little regard for sexual ethics.  Dr. Robert Kirstner of Harvard Medical School said, “About ten years ago, I declared that the Pill would not lead to promiscuity.  Well, I was wrong.  The birth control pill has been a major causal factor in the rapid increase in both V.D. and cervical cancer among adolescents by stimulating higher levels of promiscuity.”9  And Dr. Min‑Chueh Chang acknowledged, “[Young people] indulge in too much sexual activity … I personally feel the Pill has rather spoiled young people.  It’s made them more permissive.”10

Dr. Alan Guttmacher, former Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, also drew a clear picture of the link between abortion and contraception within the context of increased promiscuity nearly fifty years ago: “When an abortion is easily obtainable, contraception is neither actively nor diligently used.  If we had abortion on demand, there would be no reward for the woman who practiced effective contraception.  Abortion on demand relieves the husband of all possible responsibility; he simply becomes a coital animal.”11

Finally, psychologists Eugene Sandburg and Ralph Jacobs noted the obvious connection between contraception and abortion as birth control: “As legal abortion has become increasingly available, it has become evident that some women are now intentionally using abortion as a substitute for contraception.”12

Drs. Kirstner and Min‑Chueh were certainly correct in their assessment of the situation.  In 1970, only 4.6% of all 15‑year‑old girls had experienced premarital sex.  By 2000, this rate had increased more than eightfold to 40%.  Of all unmarried girls in the 15 to 19 age bracket, 28.6% had had premarital sex in 1970.  This rate had more than doubled to 61.4% by 199013 and reached about 80% by 2000.14

2. Illegitimate Births

The inevitable result of the combination of increases in premarital sex and of ‘unwanted pregnancy’ is an increase in illegitimate births and abortion.  This principle is so obvious that leading “family planners” recognized it in the early 1970s.

Professor Kingsley Davis of the United States Commission on Population Growth and the American Future stated:

The current belief that illegitimacy will be reduced if teenage girls are given an effective contraceptive is an extension of the same reasoning that created the problem in the first place.  It reflects an unwillingness to face problems of social control and social discipline, while trusting some technological device to extricate society from its difficulties.  The irony is that the illegitimacy rise occurred precisely while contraceptive use was becoming more, rather than less, widespread and respectable.15

The illegitimacy rate for births among teenaged girls hovered around 5 – 7% for decades until about 1960.  Between 1960 and 1970, it doubled as the birth control pill ushered in the “Sexual Revolution.”  After 1970, the teenage illegitimacy rate exploded with the introduction of comprehensive sex education programs and school‑based clinics.

The overall illegitimacy rate for all children born in the United States was 5% in 1960.  This rate had increased by 700% to 40.7% by 2008.16

This phenomenon is not just an ethical or religious concern, it is a profoundly practical one.  Social workers know that children born into one‑parent families are much more likely to be abused and abusive, to be undereducated, to be under‑ or unemployed, to have illegitimate children themselves, and to be far more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

3. Degradation of Marriage and Family

In 1965, before the Pill became widely available, about 15% of all couples lived together before marriage.  The major reason for the relatively low incidence of this arrangement was simple:  Living together meant more sex, and more sex meant a greater chance of a pregnancy in a nation where abortion was still illegal.

Today, many young unmarried women are on the Pill and abortion is readily available as a backup.  They feel that they have no reason not to be sexually active and “shack up” before marriage.

As a result, nearly half of all couples in the United States now live together before marriage.  This in turn causes great problems because more than 75% of all couples who lived together before marriage eventually divorce.17  The Pill has also contributed greatly to our country’s exploding divorce rate, which was about 18% in 1965 and now stands at about 50%.

Predictably, the innocent children of divorced couples are always those who suffer the most.  But the gender feminists and sexologists simply write them off as a sort of necessary “collateral damage,” inevitable victims of the Sexual Revolution and the war against one’s own sexuality.

Implications for Pro‑Lifers

Millions of women in the USA and all over the world use the Pill.  Many women who would never consider a surgical abortion now use low‑dose pills that cause them to abort a new life an average of once or twice every year.  A large number of women who claim to be pro‑life use these pills, many at the urging of their husbands.  These are usually women who are ignorant of the Pill’s abortifacient mode of action, those who think that their way of life requires that they use the Pill, or those who cannot mentally make the connection between contraception and abortion.

Pro-abortionists play upon this theme constantly.  For example, “Catholic” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed, “98 percent of Catholic women use birth control to determine the size and timing of their families.”  The reality is that 83% of Catholic women use artificial birth control (32% have been sterilized), and only 31% of Catholic women use the Pill.

Researchers have calculated that the birth control pill directly causes between 1.53 and 4.15 million chemical abortions per year in the United States ― up to four times the total number of surgical and medical abortions committed every year!  We can calculate that about 750 million “silent abortions” have occurred in the United States since the birth control pill began to come into wide use in 1965.18

To put this into perspective, for every surgical and RU-486 abortion that has been performed in this country, a dozen “silent abortions” have taken place.

This means that otherwise pro‑life women who are using the Pill or some other means of abortifacient birth control are committing abortions themselves on a frequent basis.  These abortions are “silent” and unseen, but they are no less abortions than are gruesome third‑trimester D&X abortions.  There are many pro‑lifers who are using these pills and who are involved in their promotion and distribution.  These people must consider whether they can, in good conscience, criticize women whose action differs from their own only in that they have to drive to an abortion mill to commit it.

Conclusion

When Pope Paul VI overrode the recommendations of his Birth Control Commission and wrote Humanae Vitae in 1968, he was exposed to widespread criticism, dissent and ridicule.  But the four predictions he made in his great encyclical have undeniably come true.  These are:

  1. Infidelity and moral decline
  2. Loss of respect for women
  3. Abuse of power by public authorities
  4. A false sense of unlimited dominion over one’s body.

Today, most women (and men) see contraception as essential to their lives, and what was once mortal sin has “evolved” in the minds of most Catholics into an absolute necessity of life, something they simply cannot do without.

The great irony in all of this is that those who follow Church teachings regarding sexual morality are not only happier, they find their lives less difficult and complicated in the long run.

This is how Our Lord planned it, and this is the way we should live.

 

Endnotes

[1] See Chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception.”

[2]  Robert A. Hatcher, et. al.  Contraceptive Technology (20th Revised Edition) [New York:  Ardent Media, Inc.], 2011.  Table 26‑1, “Percentage of Women Experiencing an Unintended Pregnancy During the First Year of Typical Use and the First Year of Perfect Use of Contraception and the Percentage Continuing Use at the End of the First Year.  United States,” page 791.

[3] For references and calculations, e-mail Brian Clowes at bclowes@hli.org and ask for Excel spreadsheet F-02-05.XLS, “Probability of Pregnancy over Time for Fertile Women Who Use Various Methods of Birth Regulation, Ranked by User Effectiveness Rates.”

[4] Christopher Tietze, quoted in the National Abortion Rights Action League’s A Speaker’s and Debater’s Guidebook.  June 1978, page 24.

[5] Thomas P. Monaghan, Co‑Chairman, Free Speech Advocates.  “Unavoidably Unsafe.”  Fidelity Magazine, October 1987, pages 14 and 15.

[6] For references and calculations, e-mail Brian Clowes at bclowes@hli.org and ask for Excel spreadsheet F-02-06.XLS, “Estimate of Annual Deaths Attributable to Use of the Birth Control Pill in the USA, 1960-2014.”

[7] Dr. Meir J. Stampfer.  New England Journal of Medicine, November 24, 1988.  This study was based on an eight‑year follow-up of 119,061 female nurses, ranging in age from 30 to 55 in 1980.  7,074 were current pill users and 49,269 were previous users.  Overall, there were 380 heart attacks, 205 strokes, and 230 cardiovascular deaths among pill users.

[8] UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Program of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP).  “Carcinogenicity of Combined Hormonal Contraceptives and Combined Menopausal Treatment,” September 2005, page 1.

[9] Dr. Robert Kirstner, Harvard Medical School, one of the original developers of the birth control pill.  Quoted in Barret L. Mosbacker.  Special Report:  Teenage Pregnancy and School‑Based Clinics [Washington, D.C.:  Family Research Council], 1986, and in ALL About Issues, June 1981, page 5 [emphasis in the original].

[10] Dr. Min‑Chueh Chang, one of the inventors of the birth control pill.  Quoted by Charles E. Rice.  “Nature’s Intolerance of Abuse.”  ALL About Issues, August 1981, page 6.

[11] Dr. Alan Guttmacher in a discussion at the Law, Morality and Abortion Symposium, held at Rutgers University Law School, March 27, 1968.  Rutgers Law Review, 1968(22):415‑443.

[12] Eugene C. Sandburg, M.D. and Ralph I. Jacobs, M.D.  “Psychology of the Misuse and Rejection of Contraception.”  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, May 15, 1971, pages 227 to 237.

[13] “The US Family Staggers into the Sexy Secular Future.”  Family Research Newsletter, January‑March 1991, page 1, Table 1, “Percentage of Women Aged 15‑19 Who Reported Having Had Premarital Sexual Intercourse, By Race and Age ― United States, 1970‑1988.”  Numbers from 1988 to 1992 are linearly extrapolated using 1985‑1988 rates.

[14] United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  “A League Table of Teenage Births in Rich Nations.”  July 2001, page 2.

[15] Professor Kingsley Davis.  “The American Family, Relation to Demographic Change.”  Research Reports, United States Commission on Population Growth and the American Future.  Volume I, Demographic and Social Aspects of Population Growth, edited by Robert Parke, Jr., and Charles F. Westoff [Washington, D.C.:  United States Government Printing Office], 1972, page 253.

[16] United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.  Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States [Washington, DC:  United States Government Printing Office], 2012 (132nd Edition).  Table 78, “Live Births, Deaths, Marriages and Divorces:  1960 to 2008,” shows 4,248,000 total births for the year 2008, and Table 85, “Births to Unmarried Women by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age of Mother:  1990 to 2008” shows 1,727,000 births to unmarried mothers in 2008, for a percentage rate of 40.7%.  The entire Statistical Abstract for the current year in PDF format is available on the Census Bureau website.

[17] In 1989, James Bumpass, James Sweet, and Andrew Cherlin of the University of Wisconsin completed a long‑term study to determine the effect of prenuptial cohabitation on marriage.  Described in Dale Vree.  “Hey, it Sounds Plausible.”  National Catholic Register, May 7, 1989, page 5.

[18] For references and calculations, e-mail Brian Clowes at bclowes@hli.org and ask for Excel spreadsheet F-02-A.XLS, “Birth Control Methods Used by United States Women, and Overall Estimated Number of “Silent Abortions,” 1965-2013.”

Bizarre situations arise as the result of the artificial reproduction industry

June 16, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In 2011, a ground-breaking film titled Anonymous Father’s Day was released, detailing the struggles of thousands of people seeking to discover their genetic origins. Conceived through artificial insemination with donor semen from sperm banks, the documentary traces the stories of men and women attempting to identify their biological fathers. It is based largely on a study on the subject called “My Daddy’s Name is Donor.”

In recent years, there has been an increase in stories about fertility doctors who have artificially inseminated women with their own sperm. USA Today, for example, reported this month on the story of Dr. Martin Greenberg, who worked in New York City in the 1980s and secretly used his own semen while artificially inseminating women. As people increasingly seek out their origins using DNA tests such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA, they are making unexpected discoveries.

In response, the biological children of these fertility doctors are demanding regulation and reform. Some doctors have been sued. Six states, including Indiana, Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida have passed laws against “fertility fraud.” Other states are contemplating doing the same. The reproductive technology industry sprung up quickly and spread fast — and not until DNA tests became affordable and widely available did it become clear how many physicians were acting unethically, and with bizarre results.

Some, like Greenberg, took the opportunity presented to them by this industry to artificially inseminate women with their own sperm when they believed they were using semen that had been frozen in sperm banks.

But as USA Today revealed in its report, not all of these women were. Dr. Cecil Jacobson of Virginia was revealed to have fathered a minimum of 15 children in this fashion, and was convicted of 52 instances of fraud and perjury in 1992. Ten other doctors have thus far been accused, in court, of “fertility fraud,” according to the research of Jody Madeira of Indiana University. Dr. Donald Cline of Indiana conceived at least 60 children through his fertility clinic to date and was discovered — and convicted — after a DNA test. Attorneys say there are dozens of such cases that have been litigated.

Many other bizarre situations have arisen as the result of the artificial reproduction industry. As the New York Times explained in its 2011 investigative report titled “One sperm donor, 150 offspring,” artificial insemination often has unintended consequences:

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow. And grow.

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. “It’s wild when we see them all together — they all look alike,” said Ms. Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area who sometimes vacations with other families in her son’s group …

Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.

“My daughter knows her donor’s number for this very reason,” said the mother of a teenager conceived via sperm donation in California who asked that her name be withheld to protect her daughter’s privacy. “She’s been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She’s had crushes on boys who are donor children. It’s become part of sex education for her.

Critics say that fertility clinics and sperm banks are earning huge profits by allowing too many children to be conceived with sperm from popular donors, and that families should be given more information on the health of donors and the children conceived with their sperm. They are also calling for legal limits on the number of children conceived using the same donor’s sperm and a re-examination of the anonymity that cloaks many donors.

As it turns out, the cost of defying nature can be a high one. The reproductive technology industry is in the business of giving people babies, no matter the cost. As one donor-conceived man muses in Anonymous Father’s Day, those babies grow up — and they want to know where they came from. Many of them are not happy with the answers they find.

 

What Are the Environmental Impacts of Hormonal Birth Control?

By Brian Clowes, PhD

Have you ever stopped for gas and watched a giant ten-wheel fuel tanker rumble up to refill the gas station’s tanks? These trucks are enormous, forty feet long, and each carries enough gasoline to fill a small backyard swimming pool.

The powerful hormones in abortifacient methods of birth control dictate their modes of operation. Every year, women in the United States ingest enough of these hormones to fill one of these tanker trucks ― 3,290 gallons (12,500 liters) worth.1 Now imagine a long line of tanker trucks parked bumper to bumper and stretching half a mile. If they were all filled to the brim, they would represent the amount of powerful birth control hormones women have ingested since 1960 in the United States alone.

Environmental Effects of Birth Control

effects of birth control: fish in shallow water get estrogens in their systems; birth control environmental impact

The serious physical side effects inflicted upon women by the Pill, the patch, injectables, implants, and hormone-loaded IUDs are well documented. But the harmful impacts of birth control extend far beyond the boundaries of women’s bodies.

Environmentalists tell us that our ecosystem depends upon an extremely delicate balance of a large number of factors, and that even the most apparently insignificant activities of man are enough to have major impacts upon it.

Yet they are dead silent on the ecological effects of some of the most powerful chemicals on earth.

Twenty years ago, the United Kingdom’s Environmental Agency stated: “Estrogenic steroids ― natural and synthetic hormones in sewage effluent ― have been shown to be more potent than previously thought, with the synthetic steroid 17a ethinyl estradiol showing effects in fish at concentrations below 1 nanogram [one billionth of a gram] per liter.”2 These findings were confirmed in a 2020 study which also found that some streams had an ethinyl estradiol concentration of more than 60 nanograms per liter, far beyond the limit that causes grave harm to fish populations.3 This means that the problem of hormonal pollution is longstanding and causing ever more severe environmental impacts with each generation of fish.

Another 2020 study conducted in a laboratory in order to precisely control all inputs found that a few picograms [one trillionth of a gram] per liter of water caused malformations, decreased egg production and DNA methylation, which represses gene transcription.4

To visualize the scales we are talking about, a single drop of one of these steroids pollutes 66,500 gallons of water severely enough to cause significant health problems in fish at a concentration of one part per billion. This is equivalent to ten drops in a standard Olympic-sized swimming pool of 660,000 gallons. A single thimbleful would have major impacts on fish living in a lake 300 yards in diameter.5

water ripples; there is estrogen in water we drink

This is because excreted birth control pill hormones are a pollutant, just like trenbolone (a synthetic steroid that “bulks up” cattle) and the pesticide bifenthrin. Gord Miller, Ontario’s environmental commissioner, said, “If you were designing the perfect pollutant, it would probably look like a pill.”6

Estrogens which are excreted into the environment are classed as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) because they interfere with the endocrine systems of both humans and animals. Other EDCs, such as those that find their way into the environment from vehicle exhaust, paints, plastics and adhesives, can be filtered out in wastewater treatment plants, but estrogen-based EDCs cannot, and thus pose a greater threat.While municipalities that operate water filtration plants insist that there is no threat to the environment, they cannot explain why the reproductive lives of multiple fish species are being dangerously altered.

The top environmental agencies in the United States, Canada and England have all found that exposure to unmetabolized birth control hormones has caused feminization of male fish, delayed reproduction in female fish, and damaged the kidneys and livers of fish of both sexes.8 Studies have found that female fish outnumber male fish in streams by a ratio of ten to one in areas where there is a high incidence of birth control pill usage. Biologist John Wooding said about this finding, “It’s the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me.”9

One study in New Brunswick by the Canadian Rivers Institute found that entire species of fish were exterminated in a large lake because all of the male fish had become feminized. Study leader Dr. Karen Kidd said, “What we demonstrated is that estrogen can wipe out entire populations of small fish ― a key food source for larger fish whose survival could in turn be threatened over the longer term.”10

These effects of birth control are not limited to fish ― they happen to large mammals as well. A study by the University of Aberdeen found that sheep that grazed on land fertilized with sewage sludge had a high rate of abnormalities in the testes, ovaries, uteri, brains, and thyroid and adrenal glands. These problems were attributed to the high levels of artificial hormones found in birth control pills that cannot be removed by wastewater treatment processes. The study authors warned:

These chemicals are in our air, soil and water. Some are fat soluble and may accumulate in our bodies while others are water soluble and end up passing through us and being flushed down our toilets, entering our environment where they may affect other animals or enter our food chain re-exposing humans.

Many of the changes we see are very subtle and not apparent in the living animal; nevertheless, they may be associated with disruptions of many different physiological systems and increased incidences of diseases and reproductive deficiencies such as those that have been reported in a variety of species, including humans. Embryos, fetuses and young animals appear to be particularly vulnerable.

It’s notable that incidences of breast and testicular cancer and of fertility problems in humans are increasing, while populations of animal groups as diverse as amphibians and honeybees are in decline.11

Why Don’t We Hear of The Effects of Birth Control?

The environmental effects of hormonal birth control have been suspected for more than two decades, yet environmentalists are completely silent on this issue.

If there is the slightest theoretical chance bird eggs might be damaged or thinned by pesticides, the environmentalists’ outcry is immediate and forceful (recall the propaganda campaign regarding DDT). But let the top environmental agencies from several nations definitively document the link between birth control pills and ecological damage, and all we hear from “progressive” groups is … silence.

mouth taped shut

 

This is because “progressives” hold “reproductive rights” above all other considerations ― the right to life, free speech, and even our environment. As Betty Ball of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center said, asking people to stop polluting water with hormones “gets into the bedroom.” She said, “I’m not going there. This involves people’s personal lives, childbearing issues, sex lives and personal choices.”12

And Curt Cunningham, water quality issues chairman for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sierra Club International, said that people “would not take kindly” to the suggestion of banning or restricting hormonal contraceptives. He added, “For many people it’s an economic necessity. It’s also a personal freedom issue.”13

In other words, “progressive” activists consider their birth control pills, morning-after pills and abortion pills to be so important that even the environment must take second place to “sexual freedom.” Such is the self-centered and hypocritical nature of the culture of death.

The attempts by pro-lifers like Jill Stanek to sound an environmental alarm have been met with silence, denial, and accusations of hypocrisy. The Left employs its usual tactic of suppressing the point so vigorously that anyone who brings it up will be so ruthlessly stigmatized that people will learn that it is unacceptable to bring up the issue in polite [“progressive”] company. Another topic we are commanded to avoid is the spectacle of top global warming alarmists (John Travolta, Al Gore, Leonard DiCaprio, Harrison Ford and many others) zipping all around the world in their private jets to attend lavish environmental conferences that are always held in only the poshest cities.

We also dare not mention the Birkenstock-wearing, fair-source, granola-munching, strictly vegan activists who vigorously protest genetically modified foods and hormonal beef additives ― and then, at the same time every day, pop a powerful steroid pill.

We Drink Estrogen-Polluted Water

Although birth control hormones in the water are not as dangerous to human beings as they are to fish, we must note again that sewage and water treatment filtration cannot remove all of them from the water we drink.

pill with glass of water

Studies in the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada have shown that breast development in young girls has rapidly accelerated since the 1960s, probably due to the estrogens in drinking water. Now young girls are developing breasts as early as six or seven years of age, and spokesmen for the medical societies are, for the most part, silent. Marcia Herman-Giddens, adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, said, “My fear is that medical groups could take the data and say ‘This is normal. We don’t have to worry about it.’ My feeling is that it is not normal. It’s a response to an abnormal environment.”14

Dr. Michelle Bellingham of the University of Glasgow is among the growing number of scientists who believe that male fertility is declining because of the estrogens in our water supplies, leading to an increased use of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies.15

Another study by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Environmental Oncology found that chemicals extracted from randomly sampled fish in the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers caused growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells cultured in a laboratory, eleven of which “produced very aggressive cancer growth.”16

One British study found that the incidence of prostate cancer in men is highest in areas where the use of oral contraceptives is the greatest.17 Several such studies are widely varied in their geographical locations and objectives and, as a whole, are not yet conclusive, but their results should concern conscientious scientists and sociologists.

The University of Aberdeen scientists who performed the sheep study darkly warned:

If we do nothing, endocrine disruptors may not only impact human health but all the ecosystems including those on which we depend ― if we compromise soil productivity and sustainability of our agricultural systems or cause imbalance in marine and freshwater ecosystems through damage to populations of top predators, ultimately, we threaten our own survival.18

Final Thoughts

Virtually every environmentalist group and celebrity is caught up in the cause du jour of global warming. It would be ironic indeed if the end of the human race came about because of the widespread use and effects of birth control pills.

Green solar energy over the whole world - environmentalism

“Fish are really a sentinel, just like canaries in the coal mine 100 years ago,” says Conrad Volz, co-director of exposure assessment at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Center for Environmental Ecology. “We need to pay attention to chemicals that are estrogenic in nature, because they find their way back into the water we all use.”19

“Progressives” push for all kinds of compensation for damage to the environment, the best-known being carbon offsets. Perhaps if a heavy surcharge on the use of birth control pills were levied, people would begin to wake up.

But don’t hold your breath. That idea would actually help the situation — and we can’t have that! After all, if we solved enough of the major crises facing humanity, what would “progressives” have to virtue-signal about?

 

Endnotes

[1] “Fact Sheet: Contraceptive Use in the United States.” Guttmacher Institute, April 2014. According to this source, 9,572,477 women in the United States use the birth control pill, 965,539 use the implant, 1,481,902 use the injectables, 905,896 use the Nuva Ring, 4,452,344 use intrauterine devices (IUDs), 69,106 use the patch, 69,967 use emergency “contraception,” and 375,700 use the abortion pill.

Thus, the total amount of hormones absorbed annually by American women on these birth control methods would be 11,636 kilograms or 3,290 gallons. (The Facts of Life, Excel spreadsheet F-21-06.XLXS)

[2] March 26, 2002 statement by the UK’s Environmental Agency. Described in “Contraceptive Pill Confirmed as Pollutant, Says UK Environment Agency.” LifeSite Daily News, April 11, 2002.

[3] Latonya Jackson and Paul Klerks. “Effects of the Synthetic Estrogen 17α-Ethinylestradiol on Heterandria Formosa Populations: Does Matrotrophy Circumvent Population Collapse?” Aquatic Toxicology, December 2020.

[4] Bethany M. DeCourten et. al. “Multigenerational and Trans-generational Effects of Environmentally Relevant Concentrations of Endocrine Disruptors in an Estuarine Fish Model.” Environmental Science & Technology, 2020 (Volume 54, Number 21).

[5] “Pill-Popping Society Fouling Our Water, Official Says.” CBC News, March 27, 2006; E. Vulliet, C. Cren-Olive and M.F. Grenier-Loustalot.

“Occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Hormones in Drinking Water Treated from Surface Waters.” Environmental Chemistry Letters, September 2011, pages 103 to 114.

There are about 15,040 drops of water in a gallon. There are 660,000 gallons of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. There are about 20 drops in a milliliter and about ten milliliters in a thimble (See? Your math teacher told you this kind of thing would be fun)! The total amount of 17a ethinyl estradiol in a woman is about 300 parts per trillion of body weight (telephone discussion with Dr. Joel Brind on March 25, 2015).

[6] “Pill-Popping Society Fouling Our Water, Official Says.” CBC News, March 27, 2006.

[7] Thaddeus Baklinski. “Scientists: Harmful Hormones from Birth Control Pill Can’t be Filtered out in Sewage Treatment.” LifeSite Daily News, September 12, 2012.

See also “Can Birth Control Hormones Be Filtered from the Water Supply?” Scientific American, July 28, 2009.

Studies are ongoing, and developments regarding various types of reverse osmosis filtering may remove these hormones from the water we drink. Whether it is economically possible to treat the water that goes into areas where wild fish live is a different story.

[8] “Pill-Popping Society Fouling Our Water, Official Says.” CBC News, March 27, 2006.

[9] “Birth-Control Pills Poison Everyone?: Environmentalists Silent on Threat from Water Tainted with Estrogen.” WorldNetDaily, July 12, 2007.

[10] Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. “Fish Devastated by Sex-changing Chemicals in Municipal Wastewater.” Science Daily, February 20, 2008. Described in Hilary White. “Study Confirms Estrogen in Water from the Pill Devastating to Fish Populations.” LifeSite Daily News, February 18, 2008.

[11] Professor Paul Fowler, University of Aberdeen, Chair of Translational Medical Sciences, and Dr. Stewart Rhind, James Hutton Institute. “Sex and Sewage.” University of Aberdeen, Café Scientifique talk of June 13, 2012. Described in Thaddeus Baklinski. “Scientists: Harmful Hormones from Birth Control Pill Can’t be Filtered out in Sewage Treatment.” LifeSite Daily News, September 12, 2012.

[12] “Birth-Control Pills Poison Everyone?: Environmentalists Silent on Threat from Water Tainted with Estrogen.” WorldNetDaily, July 12, 2007.

[13] Iain Murray. The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don’t Want You to Know About — Because They Helped Cause Them (Simon and Schuster, 2008).

Hilary White. “Hormonal Contraceptives Pollute Drinking Water ― Environmentalists Turn a Blind Eye.” LifeSite Daily News, July 11, 2007.

[14] Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, et.al. “Secondary Sexual Characteristics and Menses in Young Girls Seen in Office Practice: A Study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network.” Pediatrics, April 1997 (Volume 99, Number 4), pages 505 to 512.

Described in Hilary White. “Study Confirms Estrogen in Water from the Pill Devastating to Fish Populations.” LifeSite Daily News, February 18, 2008.

[15] Professor Paul Fowler, University of Aberdeen, Chair of Translational Medical Sciences, and Dr. Stewart Rhind, James Hutton Institute. “Sex and Sewage.

Described in Thaddeus Baklinski. “Scientists: Harmful Hormones from Birth Control Pill Can’t be Filtered out in Sewage Treatment.” LifeSite Daily News, September 12, 2012.

[16] Hilary White. “Hormonal Contraceptives Pollute Drinking Water ― Environmentalists Turn a Blind Eye.” LifeSite Daily News, July 11, 2007.

[17] D. Margel and N.E. Fleshner. “Oral Contraceptive Use is Associated with Prostate Cancer: An Ecological Study.” British Medical Journal, November 2011.

[18] Thaddeus Baklinski. “Scientists: Harmful Hormones from Birth Control Pill Can’t be Filtered out in Sewage Treatment.” LifeSite Daily News, September 12, 2012.

[19] David Biello. “Bringing Cancer to the Dinner Table: Breast Cancer Cells Grow Under Influence of Fish Flesh.” Scientific American, April 17, 2007.

Industrial Chemicals Linked to Decreased Fertility in Women

Industrial Chemicals Linked to Decreased Fertility in Women • Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org)

Birth rates are decreasing worldwide. In all European countries, they’re even dropping below population replacement levels, which refers to the number of children needed per woman to keep a population stable.

While these decreases might be due to many adults intentionally postponing when they have their first child — or actively choosing not to have children — an increasing number of studies suggest these don’t fully explain decreasing birth rates. Some research also indicates that decreasing fertility is a major contributing factor in this decline.

One factor linked to decreased fertility is the presence of industrial chemicals found in our environment. Much is known about the impact of these chemicals on male fertility, but little research has looked into how they affect women. This is what our recent study sought to do.

We found that exposure to common chemical contaminants was associated with reduced egg counts in the ovaries of reproductive-aged women. Though these chemicals have since been banned, they were once used in household products like flame retardants and mosquito sprays, and are still present in the environment and in foods like fatty fish.

Fewer eggs

We measured the levels of 31 common industrial chemicals, such as HCB (an agricultural fungicide) and DDT (an insecticide), in the blood of 60 women. To gauge their fertility, we measured the number of immature eggs they had in their ovaries by counting them in ovarian tissue samples using a microscope. Because ovaries are located inside the body and would require surgery to access, we chose pregnant women who were having a caesarean section, as this made it possible to access tissue samples without additional surgery.

We found that women with higher levels of chemicals in their blood sample also had fewer immature eggs left in their ovaries. We found significant connections between reduced egg numbers and certain chemicals, including PCB (used in coolants), DDE (a by-product of DDT) and PBDE (a flame retardant). As female fertility is age-dependent, we made sure to adjust our calculations accordingly depending on the age of the woman in question. This showed us that exposure to these chemicals resulted in fewer eggs for women of all ages.

We also found that women with higher chemical levels in their blood had to try for longer to get pregnant. For the women with the highest levels of chemicals in their blood, it took more than a year.

Unlike men, women are only born with a fixed set of immature eggs in their ovaries, and cannot produce new ones after birth. A woman’s “reserve” (the number of eggs in her ovaries) naturally diminishes through monthly ovulations, as well as by normal follicle death. When depleted below a critical level, natural fertility ends and menopause begins. Our findings imply that toxic chemicals may speed up the disappearance of ovarian follicles, which could lead to reduced fertility and earlier menopause.

Chemical soup

We’re exposed to industrial chemicals through our food, the products we put on our skin and even through our mothers while developing in the womb.

The number of industrial chemicals, as well as their abundance in the environment, has steadily increased since the 1940s — with devastating effects on ecosystemswildlife and even human fertility. Many chemicals were introduced to the market with little testing for safety. This has led to a situation where humans and the environment are exposed to an extensive “soup” of industrial chemicals.

So far, multiple chemicals have been found to be harmful to reproduction after only decades of consumer use. These include PFAS (the chemical used in Teflon, Scotch Guard and firefighting foam), phthalates (used in plastic packaging, medical equipment and soaps and shampoos), as well as pesticides and other industrial chemicals like PCBs.

The negative effects include reduced sperm counts in men, and potentially the ability of women to become pregnant. Our study is the first to investigate the link between chemical exposure and the number of eggs a woman has.

The chemicals we studied were all “persistent”, meaning they build up in the body over time. Strikingly, the chemicals that we found to be associated with lower egg counts were restricted by an international treaty decades ago. Yet because of their persistence, they still contaminate the ecosystem and our food.

Interestingly, PCBs (one of the chemicals we studied) have also been connected to decreased sperm counts and infertility in men. Simultaneous decreases in male and female fertility could make it more difficult for couples to get pregnant.

In future, researchers should investigate whether the fertility of all women — as opposed to pregnant women — is similarly affected by these chemicals. But these findings may encourage us to rethink chemical safety to take fertility into consideration during safety assessments.

Avoiding certain foods (such as seafood) and certain products (such as those we put on our skin and hair) may also help minimize the negative effects of chemicals on our chances of having a baby

Originally published by The Conversation.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

7 brave mothers who risked their lives to save their preborn babies

By Nancy Flanders |
Becoming critically ill while pregnant can be devastating. While high-risk conditions associated with pregnancy often don’t occur until later in the pregnancy — allowing the preborn child to be delivered prematurely so the mother’s life can be saved — conditions unrelated to pregnancy, such as cancer or ALS, can be diagnosed at any time.

Some cancer treatments are safe during pregnancy, but some are not, and these mothers chose to forgo their own life-saving care to allow their babies a chance at life.

St. Gianna

St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician who suffered from chronic illness. During her pregnancy with her fourth baby, Gianna began to suffer immense pain. Doctors found a tumor in her uterus and gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, which would also mean the death of her child, or attempted removal of just the tumor in an attempt to save both lives.

Gianna chose the third option and the surgery was a success, but complications continued through the rest of the pregnancy. When it came time to deliver the baby, Gianna told her family, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate. Choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.”

In April 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was delivered by C-section, and though doctors worked hard to save her, her mother Gianna died just a week later from septic peritonitis. She was 39 years old.

In 2004, Gianna was canonized as a saint. She is known as the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and preborn children, and is the inspiration behind the first pro-life Catholic healthcare center for women in New York: the Gianna Center.

Blessed Chiara

Chiara Corbella Petrillo was just 28 years old when she died. She and her husband Enrico had already lost two babies at birth, Maria and David, choosing to carry them each to term knowing that they would likely die. Pregnant with her third child, the couple discovered he was healthy, but that Chiara was not.

Diagnosed with aggressive cancer, doctors advised her to begin treatments, but those treatments would have risked her baby’s life. She decided to forgo the treatments to protect her preborn son, Francisco. After he was born in May 2011, Chiara began treatments, but the cancer progressed, and she lost sight in one eye. On June 13, 2012, Chiara passed away. In a letter she wrote to Francisco a few days before her death, she told her son, “I am going to heaven to take care of Maria and David, you stay here with Dad. I will pray for you.”

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Enrico said that he and Chiara had learned from their three children that there is no difference in a life that lasts 30 minutes or 100 years. As her cancer progressed, love grew even stronger.

“I said, ‘But Chiara, my love, is this cross really sweet, like the Lord says?’ She looked at me and she smiled, and in a soft voice she said, ‘Yes, Enrico, it is very sweet,’” he explained. “In this sense, the entire family didn’t see Chiara die peacefully, but happily, which is totally different.”

Ashley Caughey

In 2012, already a mother to a young son, Ashley Caughey began to suffer pain in her knee that doctors wrote off as arthritis. But a year later, the pain began increasing, and walking becoming difficult. An X-ray revealed the news that she had osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. She also learned she was 10 weeks pregnant. The chemotherapy she needed posed a threat to her preborn child, Paisley. Ashley told CNN:

They told me what would likely happen to Paisley, that you know, she most likely wouldn’t make it and I just knew. It wasn’t a choice to me. It was like this is what needs to be done. She’s first. I’m not going to kill a healthy baby because I’m sick. There’s nothing wrong with her. Her life is just as important as mine if not more important. I mean as a mother my job is to protect my kids.

After Paisley’s birth, the cancer spread throughout her body and to her brain, and Ashley was given just months to live. She hoped to make it to her daughter’s first birthday, but Ashley passed away in 2014, a month shy of Paisley’s birthday.

Ellie Whittaker

Two months after suffering the miscarriage of her first baby, Ellie Whittaker found a lump in her neck, and then learned she was pregnant. She was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Doctors advised her to abort her baby and begin chemotherapy.

“The doctor advised I have an abortion because cancer treatment could cause problems for the baby,” she explained. “There was no way I was going to give her up so I chose to delay it.”

Doctors planned to begin chemotherapy at 27 weeks, when it was less likely to harm the baby. But Ellie did so well, doctors held off on treatments until after her c-section at 37 weeks in March 2020. The cancer had progressed to stage three, but after 12 rounds of chemotherapy, in October 2020, Ellie learned she was cancer-free.

Amanda Bernier

Two weeks after she and her husband learned they were having their first baby, Amanda Bernier learned she had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors advised her to abort her baby, but Amanda refused.

Arabella was born in November 2014, and by that time, Amanda was unable to walk, and had lost over 50% of her lung function. She lived for two more years, breastfed her baby, and worked from her bed. She died in 2016.

Having lost both her mother and grandmother to ALS, Amanda asked everyone prior to her death to help find a cure for ALS for her own daughter, “and all of the unborn future ALS patients.”

Angela Bianco

During the first trimester of her pregnancy, Angela Bianco learned she had a malignant brain tumor. She was at her grandfather’s birthday party when suddenly, she fainted after feeling horrific pain in her head. After a few days in a coma, she was told she could have cancer treatments if she had an abortion. She thought it was the end of her and her baby.

“I didn’t want to abort and think about saving myself,” Angela said. “My duty was to give birth.”

She added, “I thought about my life, but also about the baby that was inside me. I told the doctors I did not want to abort, that I wanted my daughter to be born and that she was a great gift, at whatever the price.”

She was found to be a candidate for robotic radiation treatment in Italy, but bureaucratic delays stalled the trip until the fifth month of pregnancy. The cancer had progressed, but she was able to receive the treatment.

Angela gave birth to her daughter Francesca Pia in 2014, and the two are reportedly doing well.

Paula Cawte

Paula Cawte was told by doctors that her pregnancy was ectopic, and her preborn baby was developing outside of the uterus — but not in the Fallopian tubes. The baby was in Cawte’s abdomen, and doctors said she could have an abortion, or risk her own life to save a baby whom they said would likely be disabled or stillborn.

“We had been trying for over a year to have a baby and there was no way I could terminate when I knew she was healthy,” Cawte said. “We knew it was dangerous. The doctors said I could bleed to death if she ruptured an organ or an artery.”

Cawte had moments of intense pain, but she made it to 30 weeks when she delivered baby Eva. Doctors said the baby survived because the membrane of Paula’s abdomen had created a sac containing amniotic fluid that helped the baby’s lungs develop. Paula, however, nearly bled to death as doctors gave her eight pints of blood.

Today, mother and daughter are doing well.

“Now we can’t believe we have such a beautiful, healthy and happy little girl,” said Paula. “It’s a miracle.’

Mothers are constantly giving of themselves to care for their children, even to the point of death. But abortion advocates have long-pitted mother against child for any reason — financial, social, or physical. Sacrificing one’s life for the life of another is the ultimate gift a person can give.

Human Life International inaugurates day of prayer and reparation for the murder of babies through abortion

May 28, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Human Life International is calling for May 31, the Feast of the Visitation, to be a day of prayer in reparation for the babies murdered by abortion.

Human Life International, the largest global pro-life apostolate, is inaugurating the “Prayer of Reparation for the Murder and Abuse of Unborn Children” to be said on annually on May 31. The prayer is available in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Germany, and Portuguese.

“To defeat evil and counteract the culture of death, we need to bend our knees in prayer, do penance, and offer reparation,” Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, wrote in a column. The prayer is to be recited on the Feast of the Visitation, which has much “significance” according to Boquet.

“Mary is a powerful pro-life figure and model,” he told LifeSiteNews. “After learning that she is to be the mother of the Messiah and that her cousin Elizabeth is also with child, Mary goes in haste to the home of St. Elizabeth to assist her.”

“Her example reminds us of how we too are to respect the beauty of human dignity and the sacredness of human life by generously giving of ourselves in their service,” he continued.

“The encounter between the two holy women is in fact a meeting of four people, even if St. John and the Divine Child are hidden beneath the protruding bellies of their mothers,” Fr. Boquet said. “While worldly powers strive to deny the humanity of the unborn child, the Visitation reminds us of the fundamental truth of the dignity of all human life and affirms the immense value of life from its very conception.”
The pro-life priest praised the ever-growing pro-life movement across America, saying, “Despite the Biden administration’s aggressive anti-life and family tactics and current positions of authority and influence, various states have courageously passed pro-life laws, protecting mothers and their unborn children from the violence of abortion.”

“Of course, these pro-life actions have not gone announced by abortion-minded enthusiasts, who see this as a direct assault upon their beloved industry,” Boquet continued. “The Guttmacher Institute recently voiced its grave concern over the number of pro-life legislation being introduced and signed into law.”

“According to Guttmacher, ‘the number of abortion restrictions – and specifically bans on abortion designed to directly challenge Roe v. Wade and the U.S. constitutional right to abortion [sic] – that have swiftly been enacted over the past four months is unprecedented,’” he added. “If this trend continues, 2021 will end up as the most damaging antiabortion state legislative session in a decade – and perhaps ever.’”

“We could not ask for a better endorsement,” Boquet said, “testifying that pro-lifers are making a tremendous impact. I pray we will keep this momentum.”

Ohio city bans all abortions, instead provides sanctuary for mothers and babies

LEBANON, Ohio, May 26, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The city of Lebanon, Ohio, unanimously voted to outlaw abortion in order to protect both mothers and their babies.

According to Lebanon mayor Amy Brewer, the decision, made on Tuesday evening, will be enforced immediately, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. While there are currently no abortion facilities in the city, the ordinance aims at stopping all abortions, including mail abortions.

Mark Lee Dickson, founder of Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, said, “Cities must be prepared. The future of the abortion industry is not necessarily brick and mortar but abortion by mail or abortion by vending machine at a school or outside of a grocery store.”

“We are clearly saying in our community we do not think it is in our best interest to open a clinic or a hospital that does abortions,” Brewer said. “We are elected to make decisions based on what’s good for our community today.”

The newly passed law forbids providing an abortion, aiding in an abortion, providing money or transportation for an abortion, or offering instructions to procure an abortion.

Violations are punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, pregnant women are exempt from prosecution.

Mark Harrington, president of Created Equal and director for the Ohio initiative, said, “Joe Biden has stated he wants abortion in every zip code in America. Hence, citizens across the country are preventing abortion from being committed in their communities. Ohio is once again taking the lead to protect children, and more cities are joining this movement every week!”

This decision brought an uproar of responses from abortion activist groups. City Council member Krista Wyatt resigned in protest before the meeting took place. She claimed that “as a respectable, decent human being, I can no longer allow my name to be associated with the Lebanon City Council.”

Similarly, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Ohio have condemned the ordinance, with the ACLU threatening a legal challenge.

“This hyper-local strategy is another attempt by anti-abortion extremists to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio, by whatever means necessary,” said Freda Levenson, the legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.

With the ordinance, Lebanon is joining the ever-growing pro-life movement across America. Recently, cities are seeing an increasing number of pro-life bills either limiting or outlawing abortions. Approximately 20 other cities, all in Texas, have declared themselves “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn.”

Roe Must Go: Supreme Court Case Could Overturn Roe v. Wade

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

For the first time in years, pro-lifers have serious reason to hope that the aim towards which they have worked for so many decades – the end of Roe v. Wade – will finally come about, and as soon as next year.

A few days ago, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case – called a “blockbuster dispute” by CBSNews – involves a challenge against a Mississippi law (The Gestational Age Act) that bans abortion after fifteen weeks, except in cases of medical emergency and severe fetal abnormality. The challenge was filed by the state’s only surviving abortion facility.

So far, lower court judges have blocked the Mississippi law from going into effect, citing the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion-on-demand in the United States. Roe v. Wade, and subsequent SCOTUS decisions, have consistently upheld the “right” to abortion pre-viability – that is, before the time when the child can survive on his own outside his mother’s womb. So long as Roe stands, states are prohibited from enforcing any restrictions on abortions pre-viability.

That hasn’t stopped states from passing such laws anyway. In fact, almost a dozen states have so-called “trigger laws” on the books, which would completely ban abortion the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned. Others have passed “heartbeat” laws (including Texas, just last week), which would ban abortion from the moment an unborn child’s heartbeat can be detected. However, to date, none of these laws have been allowed to go into effect, because of Roe.

The Mississippi law, by banning abortion after 15 weeks, clearly challenges the viability requirement. And that’s the point. Mississippi’s own attorney general has urged the high court to review the challenge against the law, arguing that the viability requirement, “is increasingly out of step with other areas of the law, rejects science and common sense, and is shaky precedent at best.”

According to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), whose lawyers are involved in the case, the state will argue that “‘viability’ is an arbitrary standard for determining when a state’s interests are sufficient to regulate” abortion.

“Thanks to amazing progress in scientific research and medical technology, the concept of ‘viability’ is an ever-moving target as younger children have survived and thrived after preterm birth,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch last week. “But ‘viability’ has never been a legitimate way to determine a developing infant’s dignity or to decide anybody’s legal existence. The high court should take this important opportunity to resolve the conflicts between its previous rulings and affirm the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law.”

The ‘Best Opportunity’ to Overturn Roe
Pro-abortion advocates are already expressing outrage and outright terror over the Court’s decision to hear the case. In a statement last week reacting to this decision, Nancy Northup, President & CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that overturning Roe would be “devastating.” Northup noted that with Roe overturned, “Over 20 states would prohibit abortion outright.”

As legal experts are already pointing out, the mere fact that enough of the justices agreed to hear the case (at least four have to do so, in order for the case to move forward) shows that a sizable number of the justices are at least sympathetic to arguments that Roe must be revisited.

Over at The Dispatch, lawyer David French writes that “the most compelling reason for the emotional reaction is simply this—if the court didn’t want to do something dramatic with abortion jurisprudence, it could have simply left the case alone. It could have denied cert and let the case die.”

They didn’t. And with President Trump having appointed three justices to the court, there is reason to hope that among the six at least-moderately conservative justices now on the court, there are enough with the courage and conviction to revisit and overturn the absurd and flagrantly unconstitutional reasoning that underpins Roe.

However, while the court’s decision to hear this case is enormously encouraging news, it is far too early to celebrate.

Legal abortion is one of the most ferociously defended planks of the left’s political platform. The Biden-Harris administration is easily one of the most – if not the most – radically pro-abortion administrations in U.S. history, and will no doubt do everything in their power to promote their preferred outcome at the court.

Furthermore, this is not the first time that conservatives have hoped that GOP-appointed justices would overturn Roe. On previous occasions – e.g., Planned Parenthood v. Casey – our hopes have been cruelly dashed.

Over at National Review, Ed Whelan has argued that this case may be the “best opportunity the Supreme Court will ever have to overturn Roe.” Matt Purple, writing at The American Conservative, agrees. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is, he writes, “the big one.” However, adds Purple, this case may also mark the Court’s last chance to overturn Roe.

As Purple notes, if the current Court, with its six conservative justices, many of them still quite young, still upholds Roe, further cementing decades-old judicial precedent, it is difficult to imagine any future justices having the courage to revisit the case, and to do the right thing. At least, not any time soon.

In other words, the stakes could not be higher.

The US Supreme Court in Washington DC with dark storm clouds

Roe Must Go!
According to many news articles, the case will be heard sometime this fall, and a decision is likely to be handed down next spring or summer.

The court’s decision to accept this case has given pro-lifers reason for hope, but also a great deal to fast and pray about. For decades now, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land, removing all human rights protections for unborn children pre-viability, and in many cases all the way up to birth. The result has been untold millions of aborted children, and wounded mothers and fathers.Legal abortion contradicts everything that the U.S. founders aimed to protect and defend. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (emphasis added)

Of these three unalienable rights, the right to life is the most fundamental. Without the right to life, there can be no right to liberty or the pursuit of happiness. The justices who discovered a “right” to abortion in the U.S. Constitution were guilty of an act of naked judicial activism. The consequences of this tyrannical decision have been incomprehensibly destructive.

As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae:

“The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby’s cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.” (no. 58)

However, responsibility for this great crime also “falls on the legislators [and judges!] who have promoted and approved abortion laws, and, to the extent that they have a say in the matter, on the administrators of the health-care centers where abortions are performed.” (EV, no. 59)

For governments and legislative bodies to make intrinsically evil actions legal is unconscionable. Thus, those who have the duty to formulate law have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, as Pope Benedict XVI emphasized in 2005 during a meeting with the Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions for Family and Life of Latin America: “In attacking human life in its very first stages, it [abortion] is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God’s love.” Failing to safeguard the lives of innocent and defenseless unborn children and ignoring their duty to correct such an injustice, politicians and legislators are, thus, guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.

In their document, Living the Gospel of Life, the U.S. bishops remind us of the unique and irreplaceable role Catholics play in defending and serving human life, especially those holding public office:

“Catholics who are privileged to serve in public leadership positions have an obligation to place their faith at the heart of their public service, particularly on issues regarding the sanctity and dignity of human life.” (no. 30)

They also offer a word of warning and fraternal correction:

“We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin.” (no. 31)

“We call on them to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public roles and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching. No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life…no appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible. As is true of leaders in all walks of life, no political leader can evade accountability for his or her exercise of power (Evangelium Vitae, 73-4). Those who justify their inaction on the grounds that abortion is the law of the land need to recognize that there is a higher law, the law of God. No human law can validly contradict the Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’” (no. 31)

In 1976 during the Eucharistic Congress held in Pennsylvania, Pope St. John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, prophetically stated that “we are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through.” The would-be pope and saint further stressed that we are “facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.”

It is undeniable. We are engaged in a confrontation between two diametrically opposed forces. As Wojtyla emphasized, “it is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.”

In the months ahead, we must keep our eye on the truth, firmly committing to speak out and defend the right to life of all persons, no matter their age or any other characteristics, and no matter how fierce the opposition. We must also ardently fast and pray for those serving in public office and for the right outcome to this once-in-a-lifetime court case, which could alter the future of the United States for the better, contributing to creating a true Culture of Life.

May we live to see the United States finally become a pro-life nation, setting an example for the whole world of how it is possible to reverse course and right the great wrong of legal abortion.

Roe must go!

Texas governor signs law letting anyone sue abortionists for killing babies with heartbeats

AUSTIN, May 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Wednesday attempting to ban the abortion of babies with detectable heartbeats through an unusual enforcement mechanism supporters hope will get around the legal obstacles pro-life laws normally face.

House Bill 1515, titled the Texas Heartbeat Act, requires abortionists to screen for a preborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibits abortion if a heartbeat can be heard (generally as early as six months), with exceptions only for medical emergencies.

Notably, however, the state would not be prosecuting violators of the new law, which actually forbids any enforcement action “by this state, a political subdivision, a district or county attorney, or an executive or administrative officer or employee of this state or a political subdivision.”

Instead, it “exclusively” empowers private citizens to bring civil suits against the abortionists, punishable by a minimum of $10,000 in statutory relief per abortion plus whatever additional injunctive relief is deemed “sufficient to prevent the defendant from violating this chapter or engaging in acts that aid or abet violations of this chapter.”

“It’s a very unique law and it’s a very clever law,” South Texas College of Law Houston professor Josh Blackman told The Texas Tribune. “Planned Parenthood can’t go to court and sue Attorney General [Ken] Paxton like they usually would because he has no role in enforcing the statute. They have to basically sit and wait to be sued.”

Notably, these private citizens do not need to have any connection to anyone involved in a specific abortion. “Every citizen is now a private attorney general,” Blackman said. “You can have random people who are against abortion start suing tomorrow.”

Whether this new strategy will prevail remains to be seen, but such experimentation with legal strategies has been provoked by national judicial precedent that forbids states from directly banning abortion. Full bans take effect well before the Supreme Court’s “fetal viability” threshold, and so are consistently enjoined by lawsuits from the abortion industry.

Instead, states typically enact them in hopes of provoking a legal battle that would hopefully reach the nation’s highest court and instigate a review of Roe v. Wade, thereby potentially overturning decades of pro-abortion legal precedent and freeing the states to set their own abortion laws.

Pro-lifers are cautiously hopeful that the Supreme Court’s upcoming hearing of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, will provide such an opportunity.

Vogue article asks, ‘Is Having A Baby In 2021 Pure Environmental Vandalism?’

May 10, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Vogue recently ran an article entitled, “Is Having A Baby In 2021 Pure Environmental Vandalism?” The uproar from conservatives was swift. Many commentators blasted the article, with one major media outlet saying the piece was “ripped as completely insane for calling childbearing environmental vandalism.”

Fox News contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy called the article “hysterical,” and one Twitter user said, “These people are completely insane.”

Indeed, Nell Frizzell’s article reveals that she was irrationally fearful at one point about the planetary consequences of having a child. “Before I got pregnant, I worried feverishly about the strain on the earth’s resources that another Western child would add,” she wrote.

Frizzell appears to have simmered down a bit after she conceived the child that she — as revealed elsewhere — had longed for so much. But concerns remained: “While gestating my son, and probably every day since, I have wondered whether having children is, in itself, an ecologically sound or unsound decision.”

“Well, spoiler!” She continues. “Like so much in this life, it’s not a simple binary.”

While her thought process is cause for concern, throwing the javelin of the pen at Frizzell like she’s a crazy woman misses the mark. This is not only because, to her credit, she refuses to treat “overpopulation” as a specter to be avoided, but because doing so ignores her piece’s greater context.

More precisely, what is outrageous about the piece is that Frizzell feels compelled to ask the question that she does.

It signals that we have reached a disturbing point in our society, when a sizable number of couples are staying childless — or perhaps worrying “feverishly,” like Frizzell once did — because of concerns about their children’s effects on the planet, or fears that their child will meet with a disastrous planetary future. The likes of a woman who writes for Vogue is swimming in the sea of “climate crisis” hysteria, and without an intellectual anchor, she will easily be caught up in its currents.

In fact, Frizzell’s piece comes close on the heels of another Vogue piece from March, Emma Harding’s “Fear Over the Climate Crisis Has Made Me Reconsider Having Children,” in which she reveals that she has, tragically and truly insanely, abstained from having children in order to help “save” the planet.

“Our own prevailing rationale for not having children stems from the crisis and the limited time we now have to address the climate emergency. I feel privileged to be in a position to be able to make this choice,” wrote Harding. She continues, saying “it is what feels right for us.”

“Even though up until now (I can’t promise an overriding maternal urge won’t consume my body one day) we have decided not to have children of our own, I hope we leave the world a little bit better for the children I so love — my nieces, nephews and goddaughter — so that they, too, can experience, love and protect the wonder of this Earth, for themselves and the generations beyond,” she concluded.

In fact, these worries are common enough — or at least, politically expedient enough — to prompt several mainstream news pieces in recent years featuring couples who’ve decided not to have children due to the climate “crisis.”

These fears generally revolve around both the worldwide environmental impact on others of a new human being’s resource consumption/carbon footprint, and the perceived likelihood that their child will meet with an inhospitable earth.

In 2019, the BBC featured a movement called anti-natalism, which is “based around the tenet that it’s cruel to bring sentient lives, doomed to suffering and to causing suffering, into the world.” The article revealed that anti-natalists had created an online petition, “Overpopulation root of the climate catastrophe — worldwide birth stop now,” which had garnered at least 27,000 signatures, and which they hoped to send to the United Nations.

The Guardian ran a piece in 2018 featuring people who gave up having children to “save” the planet, including a 26-year-old woman who sterilized herself, as well as members and patrons of the group Population Matters, which campaigns for population reduction. One of the group’s board members, Emma Olif, told the Guardian that having children, “from a biological point of view, is probably one of the most selfish things you can do.”

Then there’s the BBC interview with the “[w]omen too scared of climate change to have children,” who are part of the U.K. movement Birthstrike, “a voluntary organisation for women and men who have decided not to have children in response to the coming “climate breakdown and civilisation collapse.”

“I’m so depressed, I feel so hopeless over what I’m reading, just the last couple of months even,” Alice Brown told the BBC. “Insect numbers are plummeting so fast. We’re destroying Biodiversity so quickly that that threatens our food, and the UN have said that that can lead to the risk of our own extinction. My decision for being on Birthstrike mostly has come from not wanting to pass that fear onto someone else.”

The Founder of “Birthstrike,” Blythe Pepino, in an interview with The YEARS Project explained why she founded the movement, despite her own strong desire to have a family. She cited food and water shortages, rising seas, rising carbon emissions, and fear of future instability because of these factors.

“All of those things blew my mind. My life changed. I effectively took the blue pill from the Matrix and I couldn’t go back with what I had learned,” said Pepino.

“Red-pilled” is a term commonly used in reference to a famous scene from the movie The Matrix in which the main character, Neo, reaches a crossroads: He is given the option to become awakened to the true nature of reality (red-pilled), or remain ignorant and accepting of an illusion (blue-pilled).

Neo is told by Morpheus, “You take the blue pill: The story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: You stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Her reference to taking the “blue pill” is perhaps a telling slip of the tongue.

A new mentality that has been in the works for years

This mentality has been in the works for years. Janet Smith, in a revised transcription of her lecture Contraception, Why Not?, given in 2005, shares a sad story that reveals how the “overpopulation” hysteria even affects the minds of children:

Your children are being taught from kindergarten through college that there are simply too many people on the face of the earth. Every child that is being born is being treated as though it’s a little environmental hazard, someone who’s going to “take a bite of my piece of the pie.” Some children think that they are one of those too many people on the face of the earth. I read about one little girl, nine years old, who came home and threw out all of her dolls. Her mother asked her: “Why are you doing that?” She replied: “Because there are too many people on the face of the earth. I’m never going to be a mother.” She got the message: she’s been taught that it is irresponsible to have children.

The idea that we shouldn’t have children — or even that we need to significantly reduce consumption, that is, learn “to live within our environmental means,” as Frizzell argues — is directly challenged by research from an initiative of the Cato Institute.

HumanProgress.org tweeted in response to Frizzell’s article, “@NellFrizzell should read our #SimonAbundanceIndex. Children do not strain the world’s resources. In fact, the opposite is true: each new child is correlated with an increase in resource abundance.”

The Simon Abundance Index, which “measures the relationship between population growth and the abundance of 50 basic commodities,” including food and energy, found that the average person’s “personal resource abundance rose by 303 percent” between 1980 and 2020.

In the United States, farmers continue to be paid by the government to leave land unfarmed.

Even if this were not documented to be the case, it’s strange that many so-called “progressives” — supposedly firm believers in the power of men’s ingenuity to solve the problems of mankind — essentially suppress their imagination about sustainability solutions. That is, if they don’t conclude we must give up children altogether, they conclude that we must live in poverty, or “own nothing,” as the World Economic Forum has told us will be our fate (the original video has since been removed due to backlash).

If human beings can learn to communicate wirelessly from thousands of miles apart, to make 400-ton hunks of metal fly, to make electricity from wind or sunlight … Then why must we resign ourselves to giving up children or living like a third-world country to save the planet?

Frizzell noted that despite her concerns that the world “now is dangerous for children” — because of, for example, the dangers of pollution — she had a baby “anyway,” adding, “Is that because I am selfish, myopic or greedy?… Perhaps.”

But who really suffers from myopia?

A materialist worldview

Those who decide not to have children to “help” the planet are really saying that the world would be worse off, not better off, if they brought a child into it.

There is nothing more cynical, more anti-”progressive,” more self-denigrating, more dense, more senseless, more anti-human, more tragic.

What such a stance really does is expose the frightening and pitiably two-dimensional worldview of the pure materialist, which reduces human beings to their material productivity. If your child consumes more resources than they expend, well, they are a mathematical liability, a useless eater.

Whether or not it is articulated or realized as such, the mentality is that if one human being inconveniences or materially reduces the “quality of life” of another, it is better if the human being didn’t exist. Hence: contraception as the norm, euthanasia for the elderly, abortion of the disabled — abortion, period.

Frizzell’s “feverish” worry before pregnancy about “strain” on the earth’s resources, and her expressed hope that her son doesn’t “destroy” “future humanity,” suggest that she buys into this materialist philosophy.

I imagine that many, many parents have concerns or worries about bringing children into what is — and what has always been — a dangerous world.

But I fear that anxiety about purely material concerns — which do have their place — overshadows concerns about what has a much more profound impact on our posterity’s well-being:

Whether our children can establish whole and meaningful relationships in a forever “socially distanced” and masked world; whether our children will grow up in a loving household with both a mother and a father; whether our children can retain their innocence, or even have an idea of what innocence is; whether our children will live a life of character and principles, even when it is not politically correct or popular; whether they will have a firm reason for and source of those principles; whether our children will grow up knowing they have a loving Father in Heaven, their unshakable Rock and reason for hope.

The greatest miseries of our world are not the physical sufferings. They are the miseries of abuse, mental illness, addiction, neglect, hatred, apathy, loneliness, nihilism … And no amount of “saving the planet” can cure and heal these blights — nor will technological progress, and, it is true, nor will material wealth.

Along with a societal return to God, the opportunity to raise and form strong, principled, and loving children — if possible, many children — is a bright and promising, and beautiful antidote.

Commercial Surrogacy Harms Women and Children, Here’s How

GRACE MELTON AND MELANIE ISRAEL

By now many Americans have read a glowing news article about the latest celebrity to have a child via surrogacy or watched a human-interest piece about a woman carrying a child for a loved one.

From New York, which just quietly legalized commercial surrogacy, to California, which remains a hotspot for individuals and couples from across the country and around the world seeking such services, surrogacy is often positioned only as a positive good. No equivocation or mention of the harms it poses to women and children is even mentioned.

Avoiding the other side of the conversation does a disservice to us all, however. It’s time to talk about the dangers of surrogacy.

Just ask some of the children themselves. “There are a lot of days …where I feel adrift, kind of like a tumbleweed… It’s days like today where my heart hurts a bit more over a surrogacy agency, doctors, lawyers, and the rest of the adults involved not successfully making sure that this product they were creating would be o.k.,” writes “jkiam83” an anonymous surrogate-born woman on her blog. “Where are the resources and communities for us products of surrogacy? [I]s this really what is in the best interest of a child?”

From the perspective of Brian, a surrogate-born man, it’s not; he writes, “It looks to me like I was bought and sold.”

In a surrogacy arrangement, a woman carries a child for an individual or couple who is unable to do so themselves. Sometimes the child is genetically related to the commissioning parents, but often donor gametes are used, and the child is related to only one, or in some cases neither, of the commissioning parents.

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Sometimes the surrogate mother is genetically related to the child she carries, but often she is not. Some surrogacy arrangements are domestic, but many commissioning parents pursue international surrogacy arrangements, which adds an additional layer of logistical and legal difficulties.

Surrogacy is fraught with ethical and moral considerations. It is a process that can exploit vulnerable women. It carries significant health and psychological risks for the women whose wombs have been “rented,” the women whose eggs have been harvested to create an embryo, and the children who are born from these arrangements. All too often, the desires of adults—namely, the commissioning parent(s)—supersede the interests of children. Unfortunately, discussions of surrogacy in media—and culture more broadly—rarely focus on the latter.

At the recent United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, The Heritage Foundation and the Center for Family and Human Rights drew attention to surrogacy and the dangers it poses to women at an event that highlighted several instances of women who had been trafficked, rendered infertile, or even died as a result of surrogacy. Michelle Reaves was one such surrogate mother from California. She lost her life last year while delivering a baby for someone else, leaving her own son and daughter motherless and her husband a widower.

By its very nature, surrogacy commodifies both a woman’s body as well as that of the child. The women targeted to become a surrogate by the multi-billion-dollar fertility industry are often wooed by the opportunity to make tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for renting their body. In some cases, a surrogate arrangement is altruistic—perhaps the surrogate mother may want to help a friend or family member who desperately wants a baby, and she does not profit financially from the exchange.

Nevertheless, regardless of the circumstances or motivation, in a surrogacy arrangement a woman’s body is used as a conduit for a transaction that provides a baby for someone else—and the risks for both her, and the baby, are significant.

Whether a surrogate mother is compensated or not, serious concerns involving health risks to mothers and babies remain, and the rights of children must not be ignored.

Children who are born as the result of a surrogacy arrangement are more likely to have low birth weights and are at an increased risk for stillbirth. When a woman carries a child conceived from an egg that is not her own—a traditional gestational surrogate arrangement—she is at a three-fold risk of developing hypertension and pre-eclampsia.

Egg donors have spoken up about experiencing conditions such as loss of fertility, blood clots, kidney disease, premature menopause, and cancer, and the lack of data and studies on both short and long term health outcomes for egg donors makes true informed consent unattainable.

While scientists do not fully understand the scope of these health considerations, it is clear that for both short and long-term outcomes, surrogacy is a frontier of unknowns; children, egg donors, and surrogate mothers may pay a physical or psychological price nobody yet fully knows or understands.

Children’s Rights Matter

Surrogacy gives little consideration to the rights of a resulting child, who in many cases will be intentionally separated from at least one biological parent, as well as potential half-siblings in cases where the commissioning parents are using egg or sperm donors in conjunction with the surrogacy arrangement. In cases of anonymous egg and/or sperm donation, children have been denied part, or in some cases all, of the details of their biological origins. “Genealogical bewilderment” and adjustment difficulties among surrogate-born children are well documented.

Even in cases where a child is raised by his or her biological parents, children’s rights advocate Katy Faust notes that many surrogate-born children in these circumstances experience the primal wound of losing their birth mother, an experience well-documented among adopted children. She argues that “surrogacy is, by its very nature, an injustice to the child. Birth is intended to be a continuation of the mother/child bond, not the moment at which the child suffers an intentional, primal wound. It’s the day when a baby should see the mother she already loves for the first time… not the last.”

Sometimes parallels are drawn between adoption and surrogacy. But this is a false comparison. In many cases surrogacy intentionally creates a situation in which a child will be denied his or her biological parent-child relationship. In every circumstance, the children of surrogacy arrangements are deliberately separated from the only mother they have ever known the moment they are born. Adoption, in contrast, responds to this separation rather than creates it.

Surrogacy Knows No Borders

International surrogacy arrangements can be even more complicated than domestic surrogacy arrangements because issues of citizenship and nation-specific determinations of legal parentage come into play. While there are no exact numbers available of how many children have been born from surrogacy worldwide, it is currently a global industry that is projected to grow to over $20 billion within the next few years.

As Professor David Smolin, a leading legal expert on surrogacy and author of “The One Hundred Thousand Dollar Baby: The Ideological Roots of a New American Export,” explains, “The United States is attractive to foreigners seeking surrogacy services because it is one of the few nations that offers stable legal systems explicitly supportive of commercial surrogacy.”

While America is a popular destination for surrogacy for those who can afford it, some commissioning parents engage in international surrogacy arrangements in countries with even less regulation such as Ukraine and Russia, which raises additional concerns about maternal and postpartum health care for surrogate mothers and babies.

Heartbreaking stories at the height of the coronavirus pandemic exposed the uglier side of international surrogacy as travel restrictions separated surrogates and babies from commissioning parents across the globe.

With such international variation in the legal status of surrogacy, as well as the establishment of parentage and citizenship, commissioning parents and surrogate mothers can find themselves navigating a minefield of unanticipated practical and legal issues.

Internationally, women’s rights groups are split on the issue of surrogacy—much as they are in the debates over prostitution or “sex work”—about whether it exemplifies a woman’s autonomy and choice over what to do with her body or whether it constitutes commodification of a woman’s reproductive and life-giving capabilities.

Sadly, the international surrogacy market appears to have significant and growing overlap with human trafficking. Given the amount of money involved, traffickers stand to profit substantially from selling women and girls into surrogacy arrangements.

As Dr. Sheela Saravanan, author of “A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India,” wrote in a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, “The surrogacy trafficking trade used the same network that was used for domestic work and sex trade from the poor regions of India into urban areas. These unmarried girls [were] impregnated with embryos without their consent. Others were confined in homes and when some girls tried to run away, they [were] caught, brought back and beaten.”

How Are Governments Responding?

The international community is currently debating a new protocol on international surrogacy arrangements. A group of experts—including one representing the U.S. Government, convened by the Hague Conference on Private International Law—is discussing how to address legal parentage, jurisdictional, and ethical questions about surrogacy, particularly from the perspective of protecting children.

In response to various injustices and exploitation, several countries have closed their borders to international surrogacy arrangements in recent years, including India and Thailand.

Regrettably, the current official position of the United States with respect to international surrogacy is that surrogacy does not involve the exploitation or commodification of children. The U.S. signed and ratified the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that prohibits the sale of children, but holds that “surrogacy arrangements fall outside the scope” of the protocol.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children recommends that surrogacy agreements be regulated in order to prevent exploitation of women and sale of children. But she has not called for a global ban on surrogacy, although an increasing number of voices do, including hundreds of organizations from eighteen countries that signed an International Statement for a Global Ban on Womb Rental in 2018.

Within the United States, a patchwork of laws makes for a Wild West situation. Some states allow commercial surrogacy, some limit surrogacy to altruistic arrangements, and some do not recognize surrogacy contracts. But most states do not specifically address the issue.

Proposals to more tightly regulate surrogacy, clarify contract legalities, or in the case of the state of New York, provide a full-fledged stamp of approval, don’t resolve the full scope of surrogacy’s challenges and harms.

Time to Reframe the Conversation

Beyond the debates in state houses and international bodies, it’s time to reframe the conversation. Infertility and other health conditions that render a person unable to have a child of his and her own can be a painful and isolating experience, and our society should have compassion for people who walk the road of infertility and loss.

But we should approach the matter of surrogacy from an understanding that the desires of adults to raise a child do not supersede the rights and needs of children.

Listening to the women and children who have suffered deeply because of surrogacy is critically important. Organizations like Them Before Us and the Center for Bioethics and Culture are leading the important work to elevate these voices and tell the stories of women and children that are too often ignored or dismissed.

Clarifying legalities and increasing regulations does not address fully the ethical problems with surrogacy and its harms to women and children. Opposition to surrogacy is not a simple left versus right issue, and people across the political spectrum can agree that American laws and society need to prioritize the dignity and health of women, the needs of children, and the fundamental human rights of all individuals when addressing the matter of surrogacy.

LifeNews Note: Grace Melton is The Heritage Foundation’s associate for social issues at the United Nations. She is part of the think tank’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. This originally appeared at Daily Signal.

Yes, Birth Control Affects Mental Health. Here’s Why It Isn’t Addressed

Portrait of lonely teenage girl sitting alone with depressed expression and showing a paper with a help text. Sad and lonely girl crying with a hand covering her face with help sign

“I had severe depression with suicidal thoughts. I had no libido and I got severe fatigue. I took on weight and was not able to lose it…. After stopping with the birth control pill these symptoms vanished.” —Ursula, public commenter on the FDA Citizen’s Petition for greater transparency of birth control side effects.

It’s not all in your head: the Pill definitely affects mental health

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard women share that they didn’t feel themselves—and worse, experienced severe mental health affects like depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts—on the Pill, patch, shot, vaginal ring, hormonal IUD, or even the copper IUD. It is so common you might think it’d be common knowledge. Yet, week after week I still see women asking about their mental health symptoms on Facebook groups, “is it the Pill or just me?”

Unfortunately, many women don’t find answers from their doctors or even mental health professionals if their depressive or anxious symptoms are due to hormonal contraceptives. Perhaps because contraception is seen as a “given” for all young women of reproductive age, there seems to be a major blind spot in recognizing and addressing the problematic mental health side effects of birth control.

A woman named Rachael left a telling comment at the FDA Citizen’s Petition filed in 2019, which is still open for comment. Immediately after being prescribed the Pill at age 18, she said, she experienced multiple side effects, including depression.

“When I discussed these symptoms with my doctors, I was told that I wasn’t drinking enough water, I was simply underweight or that there was something wrong with me—not the medication … In fact, every Gynecologist I’ve ever seen pushes the pill or another form of hormonal birth control with me even after I discuss with them all of my concerns regarding the bad side effects I’ve had in the past. I find this strange, because whenever I discuss side effects with doctors about other medications, they do their best to avoid it if at all possible, or switch to ones that work differently. Hormonal birth control is the only medication I’ve ever been not just prescribed, but actively encouraged to take despite having an adverse reaction to every single brand I’ve ever taken.”

Why your doctor ignores the mental health side effects of birth control

In an interview with Natural Womanhood this year, Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, founder of the Fertility Friday podcast and author of The Fifth Vital Sign, explained: “We already know women are considered more emotional… all of the stereotypes… so when you as a woman go to a doctor and say that you have anxiety, depression, or panic attacks, there’s this inherent issue with ‘well that’s a part of being a woman.’ So, there’s an inherent barrier to proper diagnosis and care in general and I think we can all recognize those stereotypes.”

Hendrickson-Jack noted that, although every hormonal contraceptive product insert discloses that mental health effects like depression and mood change are among the most common side effects, many doctors dismiss the severity when patients bring them up.

“What I learned when I interviewed a number of doctors over the years on the [Fertility Friday] podcast,” Hendrickson-Jack said, “is that in medical school it seems as though doctors are taught about the life-threatening side effects and how to mitigate those risks, almost to the exclusion of the non-life-threatening risks.”

“When it comes to anxiety and depression,” she said, “many doctors don’t seem to know or aren’t necessarily familiar with those [birth control] side effects.”

Teens are at the greatest risk

Hendrickson-Jack continued:

“A scary stat to illustrate this is that teenage girls who are on hormonal contraceptives are much more likely to also be on antidepressants. There’s research and studies that show this correlation. If you knew that hormonal contraceptives increase your chance of depression, anxiety, then if a 16-year-old comes into your office and says she’s depressed you could say, ‘Are you on hormonal contraceptives? There’s a link there, so maybe we come off it for some months and see if there’s an improvement, and if there isn’t, then we can look at some other prescription or some other treatment for that.’ That’s not what happens.

“So for adult women that are facing these side effects and symptoms, the hard truth is it’s kind of up to you to educate yourself on those most common [birth control] side effects because it’s not every time that you go into your doctor’s office that those links are going to be made, and you’re maybe more likely to come out with another prescription for an antidepressant than you are for someone to make the link that it could be related to the birth control.…”

All of this is especially troubling when we consider how in 2017, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a study of nearly a half million Danish girls, which found that girls and women using hormonal contraception were 97% more likely to attempt suicide than those not taking the drugs, and were 200% more likely to succeed in their suicide attempt. There have also been accounts of women experiencing symptoms of psychosis—symptoms which disappeared as soon as these women stopped taking their contraceptive drugs. All this has begun making more sense as new studies discover the effects that hormonal contraceptives have on the brain.

A better way to plan your family, get help for infertility, or heal painful and irregular cycles

The good news is women don’t need to resort to hormonal contraceptives, or even the also-problematic copper IUD, in order to regulate their periods or practice effective family planning. Modern fertility awareness methods (FAM) teach a woman how to know when she is fertile and infertile during her menstrual cycle with great precision, leading to typical family planning effectiveness rates as high as 98%, depending on the method used. When used in conjunction with restorative reproductive medicine (RRM), FAMs also have the potential to help pinpoint and effectively treat many of the underlying causes of infertility.

What’s more, fertility awareness methods can assist teen girls in greater understanding of their bodies, and assist them in documenting and receiving treatment for irregularities in their cycles. There are now so many excellent resources for teaching teens fertility awareness, and, as teen FAM educator Cassie Moriarty shared in a Natural Womanhood article, many teens prefer fertility awareness to birth control drugs: “I’ve found that when teens understand what hormonal contraception is, how it operates, and what their alternatives are, they are much more likely to choose a Fertility Awareness-Based Method where they can work with, not against, their body’s natural processes.” Further, Cassie says, teen girls “want to know how it works and what the heck is going on with their emotions. This is a crucial step in creating a positive relationship with their bodies.”

Want to hear more about the mental health effects of birth control? Watch this five-minute interview with Lisa Hendrickson-Jack (below) on the truth about mental health and birth control. 

Mental health effects of birth control are real // Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

Interested in hearing more about what fertility awareness has to offer teens? Watch this three-minute video (below) where Lisa Hendrickson-Jack explains how FAMs can be transformative for teen girls. 

What teen girls aren’t taught in sex education (understanding of cycles) // Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

America’s Birth Rate Drops to Lowest Levels Since 1979 Because of COVID

MICAIAH BILGER

Reuters reports the birth rate has been falling steadily for decades in the United States, and, in 2020, it reached a 42-year low.

Many linked anxieties and financial troubles from the COVID-19 pandemic to the drop, though the Centers for Disease Control did not mention this as a possible factor in its new report.

According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, the birth rate fell 4 percent in 2020 in the U.S. – the lowest rate since 1979. The birth rate is calculated by the number of births per 1,000 women of childbearing age.

Approximately 3.6 million babies were born in 2020, the CDC found.

Another sign of the decline, companies that sell baby formula and other baby products, including Reckitt, Nestle and Danone, saw a drop in sales last year, Reuters noted.

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Here’s more from the report:

The CDC did not attribute the overall decline to the pandemic, but experts have predicted that pandemic-led reasons including anxiety will hit the country’s birth rate.

In general, US fertility rates have continued to fall over the years as women marry late and delay motherhood especially in years when the economy has slowed.

The report did not mention abortion, though it could be another reason for the declining birth rate.

A recent study by Japanese health ministry researchers suggests the pandemic may have led to an increase in abortions in 2020. They found that about 8 percent of the women who had abortions in Japan between October and November 2020 did so because of the pandemic.

The Planned Parenthood abortion chain also reported record high abortion numbers in its annual report, which includes the second half of 2019 and the first half of 2020. In the U.S., it performed 354,871 abortions.

Fears and financial troubles, exacerbated by the pandemic last year, often are reasons that mothers give when they abort their unborn babies.

According to the “Turnaway Study,” a project of the pro-abortion Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, 40 percent of women seeking abortions mentioned financial reasons.

However, the study and others also have found that women often mention multiple reasons for an abortion, including relationship problems, future goals, other children and even just “bad timing.”

“Women have cited ‘social reasons,’ not mother’s health or rape/incest, as their motivation in approximately 93% of all abortions,” according to National Right to Life.

Pro-lifers work hard to make sure women never have to feel that they need an abortion because they are financially unstable. Thousand of pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies and other charities provide material and financial support to help families in need.

‘Fertility is not a disease’: How a medical miracle changed this doctor’s stance on contraception

April 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, I speak with Dr. Michelle Cretella, the executive director of the pro-life and pro-family American College of Pediatricians. She recounts an incredible miracle story she underwent when she had brain cancer, and how her health struggles changed her perspective on contraception.

Dr. Cretella tells me that even though she always maintained her Catholic faith throughout, she did disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception. Despite this, she was still very “dedicated to doing all I could to save babies from abortion and … to help women have alternatives to abortion.”

Dr. Cretella describes how in 2001, after waking up from sleep at night with terribly painful headaches, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her brain. The cancer was glioblastoma multiforme, a common and deadly brain tumor. Her husband immediately informed their church prayer group about this.

Throughout her experience, Dr. Cretella and her family continued to pray and rely on God for help. Between the diagnosis and the surgery, she was able to go to a parish mission where they were holding confessions. She says that the priest who headed the mission reminded and spoke about how “mortal sins … need to be confessed.”

Cretella mentions that when the priest spoke the words “artificial contraception,” she began to believe in the Church’s stance on the issue without fully understanding it. She states that “every argument in favor of contraception” she had heard and trusted in was all lies. She then promised God she would never use and promote it again.

gery, medical doctors discovered that the tumor was in fact a juvenile parasitic astrocytoma that’s “typically present in children.” It was therefore cured through surgey alone, and she was discharged a few days later cancer-free.

Ever since that experience, Dr. Cretella has refused to prescribe any contraception, and says that “fertility is not a disease.” Lastly, in our interview, she calls on doctors and scientists to put a Christian worldview in science and medicine. “Sometimes you must first believe in order to understand, and that’s what I have learned in my life.”

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

Margaret of Castello, a new saint for the pro-life movement

April 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – It was hardly a fast track, but 14th century St. Margaret of Castello – who was beatified in 1609 – was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis on April 24 using a process called “equipollent canonization.”

The Arlington Catholic Herald explained exactly what that means:

“The decree is what the Vatican terms an ‘equipollent’ or equivalent canonization; when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize the person’s veneration as a saint.”

I’m not sure why the Vatican chose to do it this way, since her intercession is said to have prompted many miracles, but I’m very happy for St. Margaret of Castello, patron saint of the unwanted. For decades, we at Priests for Life have certainly promoted devotion to her and spread the story of her life everywhere.

That story is almost too hard to contemplate. Born around 1287 blind, lame and apparently with dwarfism, her socially prominent parents, who had wanted a boy, were horrified thinking word would get out that their baby was less than perfect. They spread the lie that she had died at birth.

They gave her to a servant who loved and cared for her, but the servant slipped up once and almost let guests at her parents’ castle catch a glimpse of Margaret. To ensure that never happened again, her father, filled with the arrogance that marks the culture of death, had a single-room cell built next to a church in the forest and walled her into it. An interior window allowed Margaret to hear Mass; another window on an exterior wall let servants pass food into the girl.

The priest there discovered Margaret had a fine mind and loved God, so he spent time teaching her the faith. When her family fled from their home when she was a teenager, they took Margaret with them, only to lock her away in an underground vault near their new home.

A year later, her parents brought her to a tomb in Castello where people were said to be receiving miraculous cures of various ailments. When Margaret was not healed, her parents just abandoned her there. Two beggars befriended her and ultimately Margaret’s life began to improve, although with many setbacks along the way.

She died at the age of 33 on April 13, 1320, after having served for years in the habit of the Third Order of St. Dominic. It has been reported that the whole city attended her funeral – that was how well-known and beloved she had become – and that a crippled girl was healed during the Mass.

St. Margaret’s life offers many profound lessons for those of us in pro-life. She disappointed her parents twice at her birth, by being female and for failing to be perfect. Today, both of those things can prompt parents to choose abortion. The world is missing millions of girls because of this preference for sons in so many cultures.

Also, she was unwanted by the very people who were supposed to love and care for her, in much the same way the unborn are unwanted by those who have envisioned a different timeline for their lives.

St. Margaret’s profound physical ailments teach a powerful lesson about how every life – no matter how compromised, no matter how “imperfect” – has value and every person has a contribution to make.

And the question that challenges us most deeply is: If we were there, and knew Margaret was locked up in that cell, would we have spoken up?

St. Margaret’s canonization comes at an interesting time in the U.S., as more states are passing laws to protect babies from abortion based on their sex, race, or disability. Prenatal testing now allows parents to know long before their baby is born if he or she will be everything they have dreamed of and planned for. Babies falling short of that ideal – like those with Down syndrome or dwarfism – are frequently aborted.

I invite everyone who believes in the sanctity of every human life to join me in praying this prayer I wrote some years ago for Margaret of Castello, the newest saint for the pro-life movement.

Father,
Your care extends to every human person,
No matter what afflictions they suffer,
And you uphold the dignity of every human life,
Regardless of the false ways that the world may calculate its value.
You gave us St. Margaret of Castello as a sign and a challenge.
You permitted your glory to shine through her human weakness,
And called those around her to love her
Despite her physical limitations.
Forgive us when we fail to defend the least among us.
Through the intercession of St. Margaret,
Give us grace to speak up for the outcast
and to welcome those who are rejected.
When this brief life is over,
Grant that we who have welcomed all our brothers and sisters,
May be welcomed by you into the life that never ends.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father Frank Pavone is the National Director of Priests for Life.

Do COVID Vaccines Disrupt Women’s Menstrual Cycles?

Researchers are calling for clinical trials to track and document menstrual changes in vaccinated women after some women reported changes to their menstrual cycles after receiving a COVID vaccine.

Women have reported hemorrhagic bleeding with clots, delayed or absent periods, sudden pre-menopausal symptoms, month-long periods and heavy irregular bleeding after being vaccinated with one or both doses of a COVID vaccine.

“In terms of why women would have a heavier cycle, I think clearly we don’t know the answer to that,” Dr. Heather Huddleston, a reproductive endocrinologist at University of California, San Francisco, told ABC7News.

“However, we do know in addition to hormones being really important in a menstrual cycle, that there is a role for the immune system in the uterus,” she said. Huddleston suggested “if there are changes, perhaps due to a vaccine, maybe that would subtly affect the behavior of the immune system in the uterus.”

A researcher at the University of Illinois described her own experience on Twitter and asked if others experienced menstrual changes after vaccination. The response was robust, so she and her colleague at Washington University in St. Louis turned it into a formal survey.

So far, there’s no data linking COVID vaccines to changes in menstruation. But two Yale University experts wrote in The New York Times last week there could be a connection.

“There are many reasons vaccination could alter menstruation,” wrote Alice Lu-Culligan, an M.D. and Ph.D. student at Yale School of Medicine, and Dr. Randi Epstein, writer in residence at Yale School of Medicine.

“Every month the lining of the uterus thickens, driven by a steady increase in estrogen, so that a fertilized egg can implant. If there is no conception, levels of progesterone plummet, causing most of the uterine layer to slough off, causing the bleeding,” Lu-Culligan and Epstein explained.

But periods also involve the immune system, as “the thickening and thinning of the uterine lining are facilitated by different teams of immune cells and signals moving in and out of the reproductive tract.”

Vaccines are designed to ignite an immune response, and the female cycle is supported by the immune system, so it’s possible vaccines could temporarily change the normal course of events, Lu-Culligan and Epstein said.

“For example, an activated immune system might interfere with the usual balance of immune cells and molecules in the uterus,” they explained in the op-ed. “These types of disturbances have been found in studies to contribute to changes in periods, including heavy menstrual flows.”

Forbes health contributor Alice G. Walton agrees. She said a connection between the vaccine and menstrual irregularities is plausible given the interplay between the menstrual cycle and the immune system — the building up and shedding of the uterine lining are processes that each rely on immune function.

When the body mounts an immune response, either to an illness or to a vaccine, it can extend to the uterus and affect immune cells that help control menstruation. A number of doctors have explained how this might work, including fertility specialist Dr. Natalie Crawford.

“We know that the COVID vaccine causes an immune response to make antibodies very similarly to how a COVID infection would in your body, and there is actually a study talking about COVID infection and what it does to your period,” Crawford said.

A study in the Reproductive BioMedicine Journal, “Analysis of Sex Hormones and Menstruation in COVID-19 Women of Child-bearing Age,” retrospectively looked at women in China who had acquired COVID naturally and the affect of the infection on sex hormones, ovarian reserve and period.

The study found that 28% (or 1 in 4) women had a change in their menstrual cycle length, 25% had a change in their menstrual cycle volume and hormone concentrations were altered.

“If a quarter of women who get COVID are experiencing menstrual cycle changes, it is most likely from a cellular immunity response,” said Crawford. She said it would not be surprising if women experienced this from the vaccine as well, as it causes a similar immune response.

To find out whether the COVID vaccine truly disrupts the menstrual cycle, experts say there would need to be a controlled study with a placebo group. Currently, clinical trials omit tracking menstrual cycles, so there’s no evidence to put the women’s reports in context.

“Menstruation is something we don’t know enough about,” said Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine. “It’s an important indicator of a person’s health, like any other bodily function.”

If so many factors can affect periods, and periods are such an important indicator of health, why don’t we know more about how vaccines affect menstruation?

It’s part of a long history of medicine not taking women’s bodies seriously, Lu-Culligan and Epstein said. They explained that it wasn’t until 1993 that a federal law mandated the inclusion of women in government-funded research, which may account for why so little is known about how new drugs and treatments affect women’s health.

Rather than treat menstrual cycles as unimportant or too complicated, researchers should view tracking periods in future studies as a potential opportunity, they said. Clinical trials should track and document menstrual changes as they do other possible side effects.

For now, scientists are still in the dark about so much of female health, Lu-Culligan and Epstein said. But a conversation has begun, thanks to women speaking out.

Why not have a bunch of kids?

Humans are, hands down, the single most fascinating set of creatures on the planet.

by Antony Davies

My wife and I have many kids.

We didn’t plan to have many kids. It just sort of happened. After our fifth child was born, a friend asked my wife how many children she planned to have. She said, “Two.” Yet each of our six kids has been both a joy and an endless source of parenting lessons. Whether you’re considering producing your own mini-platoon, or are merely curious as to how it’s possible for apparently sane adults to cope, I offer here a few insights and one piece of advice: don’t take yourself too seriously, hang on, and enjoy the ride.

How do you handle sickness? 

Commercials where the kid has a cold and the parents give him cough syrup and lovingly tuck him into bed are a joke. Nursing numerous children is like playing whack-a-mole. One kid gets over his cold just in time for another to get it. No, they can’t all be sick at once. They must do it sequentially.

What to a normal family would be a three-day cold, to a large family is a month-long affair. When you have a lot of kids, you don’t quarantine the sick ones. You want them to infect each other as quickly as possible, because you need to process all of them before you come down with the bug yourself. You start to thank God for the blessing of acquired immunity that guarantees each kid will only get the disease once.

Then you discover pink eye.

If dealing with a cold is like playing whack-a-mole, dealing with pink eye is like playing a macabre game of telephone. Kid #1 gives it to Kid #2, who gives it to Kid #3. By this time Kid #1 is cured, but Kid #3 has given it to Kid #4. Now Kid #1 has forgotten your repeated warnings about washing his hands and keeping his fingers out of his brother’s eye, and sure enough, Kid #1 has it again. He gives it to Kid #2, and the whole cycle continues. You find yourself praying for a harsh winter so the freezing temperatures can kill off the germs these house creatures have painted on to every surface.

What do you call them? 

We spent months selecting a name for our first child, Erika. We thought about how it sounded, what it meant, whether it had a long enough shelf life so it wouldn’t make her sound like an old lady just as she was hitting her college years. Ladies named Mavis, Opal, Inez, and Violet weren’t born 80 years old. They just lost the shelf life lottery.

We were quicker at naming our second child, largely because I am a science fiction freak and my hero, Isaac Asimov, had died just before our son was born. So Isaac it was. Our church friends thought it touching that we named him after the one of the biblical patriarchs. We didn’t have the heart to admit that we named him after a lecherous chemistry professor who wrote wicked sci-fi.

With names come nicknames. At first, you’re proud to tell people your baby’s name. “She’s Ivanka, after my wife’s mother. There’s been one Ivanka in each generation in my wife’s family going back five generations. Our little Ivanka is the sixth of that name.” But that doesn’t last. Where names are concerned, poetry eventually takes a backseat to practicality.

Nature has given toddlers the triple advantage of being quick, quiet, and small enough to fit into tiny spaces. When you want to sleep, they’re louder than a frat house on homecoming night. But when they’re getting into things they shouldn’t, they’re like incontinent ninjas. Sometimes the only way to find them is to follow the smell.

So, with locomotion comes the need to summon the little tykes. And this is where practicality comes in. When you finally put that name to work, you’ll regret not having picked an industrial-strength name like “Bob.” You can keep saying “Bob” until the cows come home. “Bob, where are you?” “Bob, come here!” “Bob, don’t bite the cat!”

But if you picked a poetic name, now is when you’ll regret it. Try repeating “Beatrix” or “Jacinda” ad infinitum. This is why God invented nicknames. The nickname is the name you should have given your kid but were too embarrassed to pick. It takes a while to whittle a flowery name down to something practical. And you can tell how much trouble a kid gets into by how quickly the parents adopt an industrial-strength nickname.

Over the course of three days, our lovely Ivanka became “Vonky,” then “Schpanky,” then “Schpank,” then “Spank,” then “Hank.” Now, Hank is an industrial-strength name. You can shout it all the livelong day, and the last use will be as potent as the first. You can put some serious air pressure behind that opening consonant, and the hard “k” at the end cuts off the sound to an immediate and ominous silence. “Hank” is the air horn of the naming world. “Beatrix” is the kazoo.

But nicknames quickly add up to a lot of words to remember. Our last two kids, Alexander and Benjamin, were born just a year apart. Since we both abhor the nickname Alex, we announced his nickname before we left the hospital. “He shall be known as Xander.” We didn’t like the nickname “Ben.” But since “Jamin” sounded like a reggae stoner, #6 stayed straight-up “Benjamin.”

As they tend to be inseparable, my wife has taken to calling Xander and Benjamin (as a conglomerate), “Xanjamin.” Kind of like Brangelina meets the Brady Bunch. “Xanjamin” exhibits a bit of creative flair, but at three syllables it’s not industrial-strength. Plus, if you want to summon just one of them, you have to go back to either “Xander” or “Benjamin,” which means that you now have three names to deal with instead of merely two. The efficient solution we evolved is to give each of them the same nickname: “Kid.” If we need to refer to one of them, we say, “the kid.” As in, “Tell the kid to take out the trash.” If the wrong one shows up, the other one is, automatically, “the other kid.” As in, “Kid, come here. No, the other kid.”

Last in the telling, though not the lineup, is Simon. Simon is the middle child. You hear about middle-child syndrome, where the poor middle child is ignored because he’s not needy like the teenagers or cute like the babies. Middle children, the story goes, grow up to be meek and unsure of themselves. Middle children stay in the shadows of their more outgoing siblings.

Simon does not have middle-child syndrome. If there is an opposite of middle-child syndrome, that’s what Simon has. Picture George S. Patton as a teenager. On a battlefield. In a tank. That’s Simon. When told that their older brother would be staying at college over the summer, the other children cried. Simon’s response was, “Excellent. That means we all move up in rank.”

What do you learn from having many children? 

Humans are, hands down, the single most fascinating set of creatures on the planet. If you want to understand how humans work, just make a few, sit back, and watch them do their thing. But one or two won’t do. To understand humans, you need to observe enough of them so the individual quirks average out and you get to see the commonality in their behaviours. How many are enough? Probably several hundred thousand. As that was outside our budget, we settled for six.

What sorts of insights have we gained into Homo sapiens?

1. Children believe they are inventing the world as they experience it.

The child who, standing in front of you with chocolate all over his hands and face, insists that he most certainly did not eat the cake you left on the counter, believes he has invented lying. Had it occurred to the child that lying was invented about twenty minutes after language itself, he’d suspect that the parent would not only (a) know that lying was possible, but (b) be better at it than the kid, and (c) be able to spot it a mile away.

This belief — that just because they haven’t experienced something before, no one else has either — continues into the teenage years and can even be seen persisting into adulthood. Our teenager who thinks she’s getting away with sneaking out of the house doesn’t consider that her parents are not merely parents. They are also former teenagers who did the same things she is doing. No, she’s not getting away with anything. Were allowing her to believe she’s getting away with something so she doesn’t up her stealth game and actually succeed in getting away with something.

2. Children believe they are smarter than their parents.

When I was a kid, I was embarrassed that my father couldn’t manage to programme the simplest electronic device. And I don’t mean “programme” in the sense of writing code that instructs the device to perform certain functions. I mean “programme” in the sense of any interaction more complicated than “turn it on.” Here he was, a senior executive at a multinational corporation, and he needed me — teenager — to set the time on his clock radio. If this, I thought, were typical of the caliber of mind populating corporate America, I would be running the country by my eighteenth birthday.

Now that I have teenagers on whom I rely to navigate Netflix, I realise the stark truth. I wasn’t a teenaged mental giant. My father simply had more important things to occupy his mind — things I had no idea even existed, like retirement contributions, mortgage payments, and tire rotations — such that he saw no point in wasting his time with a problem he could much more easily solve by telling his son, “Go fix that flashing thing in my room.”

Children believe they are smarter than their parents because children command nearly 100 percent of the knowledge they perceive to exist. The irony, of course, is that they are so aware of the things they know because the number of things they know is embarrassingly small.

3. Children have a keen but myopic sense of justice.

When you confront a child with the accusation that he has wronged someone, the child becomes a firehose of excuses as to why he is, in fact, not in the wrong. The young child will rely on his weak lying skills. The teenager, who has by this age has learned that he isn’t good at overt lying, turns to lying by omission and burying his accuser in a flood of irrelevance.

But when the child is the one who has been wronged, suddenly the kid becomes the world’s shrewdest prosecutor. The arguments that were so reliable in his defence — packed with misunderstandings, questions of interpretation, and mitigating circumstances — disappear. In their place are ice-cold facts and impeccable logic. In a way, this is heartening. It suggests that the child has no problem comprehending justice. It’s the equality of application that’s lacking.

Why have a bunch of kids? 

Children are expensive. They are messy. They are frustrating. They can be selfish and argumentative. They are also immense fun. They are creativity unencumbered by talent. They are slow to judge and quick to forgive. They love not out of reciprocity or personal gain, but because that’s what they do. They are joyful packets of energy that upend your life and wreck your plans in every way possible. They are the most wonderful creatures you will ever have the pleasure to know.

When you reach the end of your life, you will look back on accomplishments that the world has long forgotten and at hard-won money, power, and prestige that have faded into the mists of time. And you will know that the single greatest accomplishment any person can achieve in this life is to populate the world with children who love each other, care for those less fortunate, and walk humbly with their God.

This essay is an excerpt from Why Haven’t You Read This Book?
This article has been republished with permission from The Public Discourse.

Antony Davies

Antony Davies

Antony Davies’ research interests include econometrics, public policy, and consumer behavior. Davies has authored over 150 op-eds for, among others, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Forbes,… 

Stop the Industry of Death and Exploitation

By 

In recent years, pro-lifers have exposed the gruesome, ongoing practice of harvesting and buying and selling the body parts of aborted children for medical research.

series of undercover videos released by pro-life researcher David Daleiden showed abortionists and executives of biomedical companies callously describing how they obtain the bodies and haggling over the prices for different body parts.

In one of the most disturbing videos that I have ever seen, Daleiden and his co-investigators captured footage of the dismembered body of a child aborted at 20 weeks in a dish. At one point the camera operator uses tweezers to lift up the fully intact hand and arm of the baby, who, we are informed, was a twin.

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood, the abortion industry in general, and pro-abortion politicians and the media did everything they could to ensure that as few people as possible viewed the actual videos. When the media did report on the videos (which was very rarely), they slavishly called the videos “deceptively edited” – as if “editing” could possibly explain the gruesome images of the violated bodies of these children.

To this day, far too few people are aware of the macabre experimentation going on involving the bodies of children killed during legal abortions. Even fewer are aware that, in many cases, the federal government has funded this experimentation, using taxpayer dollars.

Biden Administration Renews Fetal Research

In two recent reports, Judicial Watch exposed that between 2012 and 2018, the federal government spent tens of thousands of dollars to buy human fetal tissue from California-based Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR).

In 2018, however, the Trump administration cancelled the contract with ABR. They also clamped down on the funding of fetal tissue research in other ways.

According to the Susan B. Anthony List, the Trump administration committed $20 million to ethical alternatives to fetal tissue; “banned intramural (National Institutes of Health-based) research using tissue from elective abortions”; and convened an Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) to “review all new and renewable requests for research using tissue from elective abortions.” According to the SBA List, that EAB rejected many funding requests from researchers “due to major deficiencies with their consent process for women being solicited for tissue and organ donations.”

Gynecological tools on doctor's table in clinic

In the latest assault on the sanctity of human life, however, the Biden administration has announced that they are reversing some of the key restrictions on fetal tissue research. According to a statement from the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) released Friday, April 16th, “HHS is reversing its 2019 decision that all research applications for NIH grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board.”

The move is hardly surprising, given the extreme pro-abortion views of newly confirmed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. However, religious leaders and pro-life groups vociferously condemned the decision, which uses our money to fund experiments that are almost too disturbing to fathom.

“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a statement. “Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research.”

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser noted that the Biden and Harris administration is “working hand-in-glove with radical appointees like Xavier Becerra…to pay back their abortion industry allies and wipe out pro-life progress made under the Trump-Pence administration.”

“Now,” she added, “they would force Americans to be complicit in barbaric experiments using body parts harvested from innocent children killed in abortions, with no limits of any kind. Pro-abortion Democrats push this deeply unpopular agenda at their own political peril.”

Real Children, Real Exploitation

As I have mentioned in the past, I am convinced that one of the reasons that abortion is still legal and widely accepted is that for most people it is basically an abstract issue. We may read about abortion in the news or on social media. But usually, the language used is so clinical, or so familiar, that we fail to grasp the physical reality of what is going on.

For decades now, some pro-life activists have attempted to awaken consciences by confronting people with the concrete, documentary evidence of the brutality of abortion. David Daleiden’s videos remain some of the most powerful recent instances of this strategy.

I have already mentioned perhaps the most heart-wrenching video – the one involving the 20-week-twin, whose mutilated body is captured on camera, while an abortion staff member boasts that sometimes “the organs come out really, really well.”

Another heart-stopping video is not so graphic, visually speaking, but is equally (if not more) damning and horrifying.

In the video, Cate Dyer, the CEO of StemExpress, one of the companies that trades in the bodies of aborted children, describes how her company sometimes ships the “intact” bodies of unborn children to academics at research institutes. Dyer explained that they have to warn the lab technicians on the other end that the shipment is coming, “so they don’t open the box and” scream. Sometimes, she admitted, “their lab techs freak out and have meltdowns.”

Dyer sounds positively contemptuous of the delicate feelings of these lab techs. “Academic labs cannot fly like that, they are just not capable,” Dyer says. “It’s almost like they don’t want to know where it comes from. I can see that.”

In some cases, Dyer says, they receive requests for the “limbs” of aborted children, but with the request that “no hands and feet need to be attached.” At one point Dyer agrees with the “joke” of one of the pro-life investigators that if you’re shipping the bodies of aborted children, they should make sure the “eyes are closed.”

Fighting for the Dignity of Unborn Victims of Abortion

It is important to emphasize that everything that Daleiden exposed in those horrific videos is still happening today. Just a few days ago, Fox News reported that StemExpress had provided the fingers of aborted children to researchers at Stanford University, who injected the human tissue into mice, in an effort to regenerate cartilage.

The papers of one of the studies bluntly explains the origin of the tissue. “Fourteen human fetal samples were obtained from Stemexpress (Folsom, CA) and shipped overnight,” it says. “Samples ranged in age from 10 to 20 weeks of gestation with no restrictions on race or gender.”

“Samples”! In other words: the bodies of children, some of them nearly old enough to live outside the womb had they had a chance to be born!

Although Daleiden’s videos had a huge impact in raising awareness, the powerful pro-abortion legal, media, and political apparatus went into overdrive attempting to crush and discredit him and his videos. Current U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris herself played a key role in persecuting Daleiden, during her time as California Attorney General. Harris colluded with Planned Parenthood executives to launch heavy-handed investigations, which included a raid on Daleiden’s home. Now, unsurprisingly, Harris is once again taking care of her good friends in the abortion industry, making them eligible for our money to support their gruesome and inhuman activities.

It angers me deeply to see Biden, Harris, the FDA, researchers, and biomedical institutes endorse and secure the atrocious actions of this macabre industry. Through words and actions, they blatantly deny human dignity and the personhood of unborn children, determining that they are not only unworthy of life but that these human beings can be treated as commodities – dehumanized and exploited for financial gain and for the benefit of others.

This dangerous mentality – denying the equal dignity of every person, born and unborn – has resulted in atrocious crimes and acts against human life, staining the landscape of human history. Its acceptance, justification, and perpetuation only further degrade our culture and society.

There is a dual injustice inflicted upon the unborn – murder and usury. The unborn has not relinquished its life, nor has the child given permission for its body to be scavenged and trafficked. It is time to end all experimentation on the bodies of unborn children killed by abortion; it has no place in a civilized society. Even if the outcomes of the research are medically helpful, the means are barbaric and evil, and evil means can never be used for a good end.

Human life is always good and from conception has dignity proper to a person that we are obliged to respect and defend, without exception. If a single life is determined to have no value, then no life has value, placing each of us in grave danger, not just the unborn.

Call and write your representatives, senators, and President Biden demanding that the bodies of unborn children killed by abortion be given the same respect as that of any other person. And at the same time let us add, stop the violence of abortion, and end the industry of death and exploitation it has created.

Planned Parenthood is Indoctrinating Public School Children With Pro-Abortion Propaganda

Did you know that Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider, has infiltrated the public school system? In their own sneaky and conniving way, the abortion giant has convinced school administrations through veiled language that they can provide important assistance to their students.

For years, we’ve been telling you how Planned Parenthood is targeting children in an attempt to normalize abortion and perhaps, it hopes, create future customers to feed its unholy empire. We told you how a Planned Parenthood representative suggested the need for a “Disney princess who’s had an abortion” to plant the rotten seeds of abortion. Now the abortion giant has its sights set directly on your schools.

This year in New York, The Clarence Central School District’s Director of Health invited Planned Parenthood to give a presentation on their “services offered” to impressionable students in high school health class.

A parent contacted us after receiving a permission slip to allow her child to attend Planned Parenthood’s presentation because she was concerned that it would cover the topic of abortion. In its description of the presentation, the permission slip stated that the presentation covers “[s]ervices offered (Information about STI’s, getting STI tests, and birth control and many other services are mentioned).” It conveniently left off that abortion would in fact be addressed, leaving the parent to question the school’s apparent deception tactic.

The parent immediately reached out to the school district’s health director requesting permission to view the presentation before she signed the permission slip, which was her right as a parent. However, she was groundlessly denied any access to the presentation by the director, the superintendent, and the principal. According to the school, they had been giving this presentation for years, and it was never deemed a problem.

This is when the ACLJ stepped in to intervene. We provided the parent with our memorandum on parental rights in education, including her right to know and be informed about her child’s education under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (“PPRA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1232h, which gives parents the authority to inspect all instructional material.

Being equipped with our letter and knowledge that the school was violating federal law, the parent again insisted that the health director allow her to review the presentation. She also requested that the school add the verbiage “many other services are mentioned, including abortion” onto future permission slips so that parents are no longer being deceived as to the true intentions of this vile presentation.

Not backing down, the parent made a compelling argument that there should be alternative resources for students, like a crisis-pregnancy center presentation, that explain how other options are available for young pregnant mothers.

We are proud to say that this parent was finally granted access to the materials, and the health director even agreed to include abortion as a topic on the permission slip for future classes. This is what advocating for your child can do. The parent has informed us that her work is still not done—she is planning on bringing this issue before the school board and insisting on alternative curriculums.

Normalizing abortion at a young age seems to be the name of the game for Planned Parenthood’s agenda, and it’s up to informed parents like you to advocate on behalf of your children. Don’t forget that these are YOUR tax dollars at work funding these reprehensible presentations and indoctrinating unsuspecting school children. This is why the ACLJ has redoubled our efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

You can join the fight and be vigilant for your child and your community:

  1. Start with understanding your right to inspect all curricula using the ACLJ’s parental rights memo. Ask to view all guest presentations, and know what your child is learning.
  2. Once your information is compiled, use a grassroots strategy and inform other parents—start a petition, hold a parents conference, and bring your concerns before the school board!
  3. Call on your local pro-life community to get more involved—find a local crisis pregnancy center willing to present at a school. Help them build a curriculum that could be presented as an alternative to Planned Parenthood’s presentation and provide it to the school board. Let them know that there are other options!

It’s time for the pro-life community to come alive and protect our innocent children. You  can effect change in your cities’ and counties’ public schools, and the ACLJ is here to support you.

LifeNews Note: Christina Stierhoff writes for ACLJ.

Thousands of reports of menstrual irregularities, reproductive dysfunction following COVID vaccines

April 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Thousands of women around the world are reporting disrupted menstrual cycles after receiving injections of COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.K.’s government vaccine adverse event system has collected more than 2,200 reports of reproductive disorders after coronavirus injections, including excessive or absent menstrual bleeding, delayed menstruation, vaginal hemorrhaging, miscarriages, and stillbirths.

In the U.K., the Yellow Card adverse event reporting system includes 2,233 reports of “reproductive and breast disorders” after reception of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.

The U.K. Yellow Card program reports 1,465 reactions involving reproductive systems as well as 19 “spontaneous abortions” (miscarriages), five premature labors, and two stillbirths in association with the AstraZeneca vaccine as of April 5.

The reports include:

  • 255 cases of abnormal uterine bleeding
  • 242 reports of unusual breast pain and swelling
  • 182 women who experienced absent or delayed menstruation
  • 175 cases of heavy menstrual bleeding
  • 165 cases of vaginal hemorrhaging
  • 55 reports of genital swelling, lesions, rashes or ulcerations
  • 19 cases of postmenopausal hemorrhaging
  • 12 cases of premature or “artificial” menopause

Another 768 reports of “reproductive and breast disorders” have been reported for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine in the U.K., as well as 42 “spontaneous abortions,” five premature labor onsets, and two stillbirths. These include:

  • 265 reports of breast changes, including 22 reports of breast cancer and 177 reports of breast pain
  • 134 cases of irregular menstrual bleeding
  • 127 reports of absent or light menstruation
  • 92 cases of heavy bleeding
  • 73 cases of vaginal hemorrhaging
  • 5 reports of postmenopausal hemorrhaging
  • 5 cases of premature or ‘artificial’ menopause

Male reproductive disorders are fewer, but 75 Yellow Card reports on AstraZeneca’s vaccine include 63 erectile dysfunction reactions, 50 cases of testicular pain, 11 cases of scrotal pain and swelling, and three reports of haematospermia, or blood in sperm.

Pfizer’s Yellow Card includes 22 reports of testicular and scrotal pain and 21 counts of sexual dysfunction.

None of the Yellow Card reports reveal details about the individuals who experienced the side effects. However, 32-year-old Lorri Emmily Lowe of the U.K. said she felt cramping three days after receiving AstraZeneca’s vaccine in February.

“I also had a completely unusable arm for 24 hours,” she told LifeSiteNews. “It was excruciating and I was pretty much bed-bound just because of the arm. I had to laugh like a mad person for strange pain.”

Lowe said she felt “out of sorts” for about three days but what worried her most was that her menstrual cycle that had been predictably “perfect” for 10 years (not including pregnancies) suddenly vanished.

She had a strange “spotting” episode that she has never had in her life before and her period was five days late. “I’m never late. I’ve been consistent for many, many years,” she said, and when it did come on it was “super heavy and lasted eight days.”

Lowe’s cycle has returned to normal now but is quite heavy. “I do not see how out of the six years since I’ve birthed a baby, that was the one month my cycle decided to go haywire.”

The U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) documents similar reproductive complications.

“My period has always been regular. Expected period was to begin on 02/22/2021 (after second vaccine dose) and bleeding did not occur,” a 25-year-old woman from Pennsylvania, who received both doses of Moderna’s vaccine, reported to the system, which is run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One VAERS report describes a 51-year-old woman from Georgia who received a first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine in January and within three days developed a blood rash (petechiae) on her ankles that gradually spread to her knees. She was admitted to the hospital five days after her vaccine with vaginal bleeding and anemia. She was diagnosed with Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, a blood clotting disorder, which led to her worsening liver function, painful leg swelling, and purple discoloration. She died February 11. [VAERS ID 1032163-1]

Write-up: Patient received dose #1 of COVID-19 vaccine on 1/16/21. Within 3 days, she developed petechiae up to ankles, later rising up to her knees. Pt admitted to hospital on 2/6/21 for symptomatic anemia 2/2 vaginal bleeding. Patient received 4 units FFP, 4 units PRBC, 1 unit cryoprecipitate, and vitamin K 5 mg IV. Also started on medroxyprogesterone 20 mg PO TID. Alectinib d/ced due to worsening liver function. Evalauted by OB/GYN and Hematology. Diagnosed with DIC. Patient with worsening bilateral lower extremity edema and purpura with pain and weakness. Palliative care consulted. Patient passed away on 2/11.

A 48-year-old woman from Texas received a first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in January and 13 days later was hospitalized with heavy vaginal bleeding and a critically low platelet count. [VAERS ID 0958885-1]

Write-up: The patient was seen in my office on 1/19/21 with complaint of heavy vaginal bleeding. A CBC was obtained which revealed an H/H of 12.2/36.1 and a platelet count of 1 (not 1K, but 1 platelet!) and this was confirmed on smear review. She was immediately sent to the Hospital ED and repeat CBC confirmed the critically low platelet count. She is currently hospitalized and she has received platelet transfusions but her platelet count is still critically low. She is also receiving steroids and immunoglobulin and is under the care of MD (Heme/Onc)

VAERS also includes 26 reports of miscarriage or other “fetal demise” events after COVID vaccinations.

A 40-year-old pregnant physician from California described a patient’s first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine as a “lethal event for the fetus” that led to her delivering the baby stillborn six days later.  [VAERS ID 958755]

Write-up: Pt was 18 weeks pregnant at the time of the vaccine. Second pregnancy. Pt is a physician. Pregnancy was entirely normal up to that time. On 1/18/2021, she began to have heavy vaginal bleeding probably due to a placental abruption and subsequently delivered at 18 weeks. Baby was stillborn. Ultrasound done 1/15/2021 normal. Lethal event for the fetus. The patient did well.

“Something insulted this placenta to lead to fetal demise,” read another VAERS report on a 24-year-old woman who began bleeding two weeks after receiving a first dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in February.  [VAERS ID 1074788 ]

Write-up: At 8 weeks pregnancy (2 weeks after first shot) started bleeding and had a subchorionic hematoma. By 10 week subchorionic hematoma resolved. Received second shot and of Feb. 1 week later, at 12 weeks pregnancy , fetus had no heart beat! It measured normal size (as expected) and limited normal first trimester anatomy by ultrasound. But NO heart beat. Something insulted this placenta to lead to fetal demise.

In most cases, deaths of unborn babies were recorded only as “life-threatening” or as “hospitalizations” for the mother, as in the case of a 35-year-old Ohio woman. The woman lost her baby after she was vaccinated with a first dose of Moderna’s COVID vaccine on the same day that an ultrasound and genetic screening showed the 20-week-old baby to be in good health. [VAERS ID 1033412]

Write-up: 20 weeks gestation at time of vaccine administration. Saw OB that morning (1/12/21), normal exam and fetal heart rate. Normal anatomy scan 1/8/21, normal genetic screening. Fetal demise noted at 24 week OB visit on 2/9/21, stillborn baby delivered 2/12/21.

Moderna and Pfizer did not immediately reply to questions about their vaccine and fertility. “It has been incorrectly suggested that COVID-19 vaccines will cause infertility because of a shared amino acid sequence in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and a placental protein,” Jerica Pitts, a Pfizer representative, claimed in an email to the Associated Press in December, however. “The sequence, however, is too short to plausibly give rise to autoimmunity.”

Animal studies to investigate the cross reaction of spike protein targeting COVID vaccines with Syncytin-1 have not been conducted to determine if autoimmunity can arise or not.

Fertility-disrupting ingredient in AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine also present in HPV, flu shots

No mechanism to explain disrupted menstrual cycles or reproductive organ pain in males and females has been offered and public discussion of the reproductive reports has been minimal. However, polysorbate 80, a chemical that has exhibited delayed ovarian toxicity to rat ovaries at all injected doses tested over a tenfold range is an ingredient in AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine, along with other vaccines including for influenza and HPV.

Concerns have been raised in the past about these vaccines’ impact on reproductive abilities. An Australian case study in the British Medical Journal described a 16-year-old girl whose regular menstruation ceased after receiving HPV vaccines and she was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure.

In 2014, Australian doctors published a case series of more teens who had entered premature menopause — a phenomenon they described as ordinarily “so rare as to be also unknown.” They raised troubling questions about some HPV vaccine ingredients’ documented risks to fertility including Polysorbate-80, cited serious deficiencies in preliminary vaccine trials and concluded that further research was “urgently required.”

Between 2006 and 2014, VAERS cited 48 cases of ovarian damage associated with autoimmune reactions in HPV vaccine recipients. Between 2006 and May 2018, VAERS catalogued reports of spontaneous abortion (256 cases), amenorrhea (172 cases), and irregular menstruation (172 cases).

A 2020 study of adverse event reports in VAERS reported a statistically significant association between the quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil) and premature ovarian insufficiency, including amenorrhea, irregular menstruation, and premature menopause.

Like the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the U.K. Yellow Card program collects voluntary reports and does not prove causal connection between the vaccination and the reported symptom. As a voluntary system, however, it tends to capture only a fraction of adverse events. A Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare study found that fewer than 1 percent of vaccine adverse events are reported to VAERS, which means that the actual numbers of adverse reactions to vaccines are one to two orders of magnitude higher.

Former Pfizer VP’s warning of potential impact on fertility

In December, former Pfizer allergist and immunologist Michael Yeadon and German lung specialist Wolfgang Wodarg wrote a petition to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in which they suggested that any vaccine against coronavirus spike protein, if it were to cross react with a similar human protein called Syncitin-1 in placental tissue, could result in loss of pregnancy and continued sterility in women who developed an autoimmune response to Syncytin-1 as a result of vaccination.

“There is no indication whether antibodies against spike proteins of SARS viruses would also act like anti-Syncytin-1 antibodies. However, if this were to be the case this would then also prevent the formation of a placenta which would result in vaccinated women essentially becoming infertile,” the doctors wrote in their urgent letter to the EMA.

Since pregnant and breastfeeding women were excluded from vaccine trials and women of childbearing age were included only if they were using pharmaceutical contraception, the letter added: “This means that it could take a relatively long time before a noticeable number of cases of postvaccination infertility could be observed.”

UK Government: ‘Insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy’

The menstrual side effects are getting traction on social media where hundreds of women have reported odd symptoms or gone looking for answers about their menstrual irregularities in the wake of receiving coronavirus vaccines. Sharon McGlinchey Seymour posted publicly on a COVID-19 vaccine side effects Facebook page that her obstetrician told her that she was seeing “lots” of women with complaints of uncommon hemorrhaging.

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Dr. Kate Clancy, an associate professor at the University of Illinois, tweeted in February that she had been hearing of women who were having heavy periods after their shots. “I’m a week and a half out from dose 1 of Moderna, got my period maybe a day or so early, and am gushing like I’m in my 20s again,” she said.

Another woman who said she will be 65 in July replied that she started menstruating after the shot “fairly heavy.”

In Israel, the Health Ministry reported that it had received 13 reports of women with heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding by mid-February, though women under age 45 had not been eligible to receive the vaccine until the end of January.

The Health Ministry said that Pfizer, whose vaccine was in circulation in Israel, had not reported any menstrual irregularities in its vaccine’s clinical trials.

Media relations officer Fiona Cookson of AstraZeneca in the U.K. said the company does not have a formal response about the reproductive complaints and that the U.K. Government Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would be responsible for monitoring and oversight of such side effects, rather than the vaccine manufacturer.

The Yellow Card reporting website states that 20.6 million first doses and one million second doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine were distributed in the U.K. by April 5.

Moderna and Pfizer did not immediately reply to questions about reproductive side effects of their vaccines.

The U.K. Green Book, described as a “vital guide for public health professionals administering vaccines in the UK,” does not mention menstruation except for to say that “routine questioning about last menstrual period and/or pregnancy testing is not required before offering the vaccine.”

“As with most pharmaceutical products, specific clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy have not been carried out,” according to the vaccine Green Book. As with other vaccines, no investigation of long-term effects on fertility or cancer is required for licensing or emergency use authorization of vaccinations.

The U.K. Green Book states that “developmental and reproductivity testing of the Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines in animals have not raised any concerns” and vaccines that use adenovirus vectors, similar to those used in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, have been widely used to vaccinate women against Ebola” and “form trials of these vaccines in pregnancy are due to proceed.”

“Although the available data do not indicate any harm to pregnancy, there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy,” according to the government booklet. Yet the standard of practice has been to recommend the vaccine if it is thought that its benefits would outweigh its risks.

It’s ‘lunacy to get this experimental vaccine if you’re a young female’

Dr. Simone Gold of America’s Frontline Doctors has stressed the experimental nature of the vaccines, which have been granted Emergency Use Authorization only by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are still undergoing phase III clinical trials.

“We know that the survivability rate [from COVID-19] for women of child-bearing age, as well as children, is exceedingly high at over 99.98% per the CDC even without treatment, and certainly without a new and unproven biological agent that is still only available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as an investigational treatment.,” Gold said in an emailed statement to LifeSiteNews. Using simple logic for a risk assessment would make the decision to give any of the COVID experimental vaccines to a pregnant woman extraordinarily reckless.”

While a year ago, women who were pregnant or planned on conceiving were hesitant to eat tuna because of its mercury content or to take a Tylenol, now they are being badgered into taking experimental injections.

“The desire to get pregnant is overwhelming. It’s not something that can be replaced by something else. It’s not something you can mess around with,” Gold told Michelle Malkin in an interview in February. “The cascade of events that has to go on in the human body to get pregnant and to maintain a pregnancy throughout is incredibly complicated and that’s why historically doctors and scientists have always excluded pregnant women from clinical trials because we don’t know all the details of what we don’t know.”

“It’s lunacy to get this experimental vaccine if you’re a young female,” Gold said. “I would flat-out forbid any young female from getting this vaccine and it’s very unethical for any physician to offer this to any young female.”

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here.

The strange truth about the pill

By Zaria Gorvett

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180822-the-birth-control-pill-can-have-male-side-effects

It all started with a Mexican yam.

It was 1942 and a chemistry professor from Pennsylvania was looking for a cheap source of progesterone. The hormone had many uses at the time, including preventing miscarriages and treating women going through menopause.

In fact, Russell Marker already had invented a way to make progesterone from a chemical in certain plants. One option was the tubers of wild Japanese yams. But these were thin and weedy – they just didn’t contain enough of the hormone.

Marker scoured the land for alternatives, examining more than 400 species, but to no avail. Then he stumbled upon a drawing in an obscure botany book. This yam had fat, knobbly roots that reportedly weighed up to 100 kg (220lbs). He travelled to its native Mexico and smuggled one out of the country.

With an affordable source of progesterone found, researchers turned to its uses as a contraceptive. The birth control pill hit the market less than a decade later. Marker, on the other hand, mysteriously disappeared from public life and became obsessed with collecting silver.

The economic and social side effects of the pill were as profound as they are well-documented. Sex could be enjoyed without fear of pregnancy. Suddenly women could devote their 20s and 30s to furthering their education and careers, rather than housework and nappies.

But right from the beginning, the pill has had a secret.

In recent years, scientists have started to realise that the brains of women on the pill look fundamentally different. Compared to women who aren’t taking hormones, some regions of their brains seem to be more typically ‘male’.

There are behavioral changes, too. Women on certain types of pill aren’t as good at coming up with words – something our gender are usually highly skilled at. On the other hand, they’re better at mentally rotating objects, as is often the case in men. Finally, women on a different type of pill are better at recognising faces – something women are usually good at.

Confused? So are scientists. What’s going on?

We’re often told that the pill contains oestrogen and progesterone. But no pill contains either hormone

We’re often told that the pill contains oestrogen and progesterone. But no pill contains either hormone.

That is because, when taken orally, oestrogen and progesterone break down too quickly to be practical. Instead, the pill contains synthetic versions, which are built from more stable hormones that have been altered to mimic the hormones.

Every brand of combined pill on the market contains the same type of synthetic oestrogen, ethinyl estradiol, and one of eight synthetic progesterones, called progestins. Ethinyl estradiol prevents the body from releasing an egg every month, while progestins thicken the mucus at the entrance to the cervix and conspire to make the womb inhospitable. Even if an egg slips out and becomes fertilised, it won’t be able to settle down and start growing.

So far, so good. But though the hormones are effective at preventing pregnancy, they aren’t perfect matches for our natural hormones. The end result is that these synthetic versions also have effects that you would never get from raw progesterone.

The internet is awash with anecdotal reports of acne, sweating and unwanted hair growth after going on the pill. One women described sprouting hairs all over her cheeks, while another came down with “pizza face” after starting a new brand. These ‘masculine’ effects have been well-studied by scientists, and they are real: certain kinds of pill really do make them worse, especially in susceptible women.

But the reason is surprising. According to a study from 2012, 83% of US women who are on the pill are taking a version that contains progestins made from male hormones. This includes the popular brands Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Loestrin FE 1/20 and Tri-Sprintec®, among many others.

The male hormone that these pills use is a close relative of testosterone called nandrolone. A potent androgen (a hormone that influences the development of the male reproductive system), it can lead to the development of typically male characteristics.

It’s actually used for doping in men sometimes — Belinda Pletzer

“It’s actually used for doping in men sometimes,” says Belinda Pletzer, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Salzburg, Austria. It helps build muscle, so it’s popular with powerlifters and boxers: the former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury recently served a two-year suspension after testing positive for the steroid in 2015 (he claimed it entered his system after eating the meat of an uncastrated wild boar.)

We’ve known about these side effects for decades: the first progestin ever made, norethindrone, was androgenic.

Back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, pregnant women sometimes took norethindrone in large doses to help prevent miscarriage. But the hormone also caused some unsettling changes to their bodies.

The women were sweatier, hairier and spottier. Some noticed that their voices had deepened. Nearly one in five baby girls born to mothers taking it had masculinised genitals. Some of these unlucky children required surgery.

Today androgenic progestins are much less androgenic. The doses in contraceptive pills are much smaller, and the hormones are usually combined with synthetic oestrogen, which cancels out many of the masculine effects on our bodies.

But there are some side effects.

“These progestins, which were decreased in dose over the years, are still related to the chemical structure of testosterone. All the derivatives came out to levonorgestrel, which is the most used or known of the progestins,” says Regine Sitruk-Ware, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Population Council, New York. “It is still androgenic by itself, by the fact that it can bind to the androgen receptors.”

Over the years, there have been several generations of progestins. Though the earlier ones are nearly all androgenic, more recently scientists have developed versions made from synthetic progesterone, instead. These have the opposite effects – they are often prescribed to treat acne or excessive hair growth because they are ‘feminising’ (though they, too, can have undesireable side effects resulting from a hormonal imbalance). Some examples include Yasmin® and Ocella™.

Generally speaking, the older, cheaper brands of pill tend to contain androgenic hormones, while newer, more expensive ones tend to contain anti-androgens. This may be one reason that just 17% of women on the combined pill in the US take the anti-androgenic versions.

There are androgen receptors all over the body, particularly in the sweat glands and hair follicles, which explains why androgenic progestins can make some women sweatier, hairier and spottier. But these powerful, gender-bending steroids also affect the brain.

In men, the androgens released at puberty are known to remodel the brain. This is also true in women, where relatively small quantities of testosterone can cause certain areas to shrink and others to grow.

Given what we know about the power of these hormones, it’s perhaps surprising that until recently, no one had checked if progestins made from male hormones might have an impact.

“There has been a lot of research on their physical side effects,” says Pletzer. “There’s also been research on the emotional side effects, because that’s something that women keep complaining about. But very few studies have looked at the brain and cognition.”

One of the first such studies was conducted only eight years ago – after the pill had already been in use for 50 years. At the time Pletzer was interested in how women’s brains change throughout the menstrual cycle. (Read more about how the menstrual cycle changes women’s brains and abilities over the course of the month).

But when she realised she was excluding those on the pill, she asked herself why. “We know that the steroids our own body produces, such as progesterone and testosterone, affect the brain. So of course I would expect any synthetic hormones to have an effect as well,” she says.

Pletzer abandoned her original idea and set out to test the effects of the pill instead. She recruited a mixture of men and women on and off hormonal contraception, then scanned their brains.

What she found was striking. The scans revealed that several brain areas were larger in the women on the pill, compared to those of women who weren’t. These areas just so happened to be larger in men than women, too.

The study involved a relatively small sample and didn’t separate androgenic and anti-androgenic contraception, so Pletzer cautions against reading too much into the results. But other research has hinted that both types of hormones actually may be changing our behavior.

It turns out that women taking pills with androgenic progestins have lower verbal fluency (the ability to think of new words). They were also better at rotating objects. This makes sense, since men are thought to be slightly less articulate than women in certain situations and have better spatial awareness.