According to multiple references throughout The Physician’s Desk Reference, which articulate the research findings of all the birth control pill manufacturers, there are not one but three mechanisms of birth control pills:
1) inhibiting ovulation (the primary mechanism),
2) thickening the cervical mucus, making it more
difficult for sperm to travel to the egg,
3) thinning and shriveling the lining of the uterus to
the point that it is unable or less able to
facilitate the implantation of the newly fertilized
The first two mechanisms are contraceptive. The third is abortive. If you would like to read the whole article on this subject please let me know Thank you.
Considering that 1 and 2 combined are responsible for something in the order of about 95% of an oral contraceptive's [OCs] effectiveness - this makes the remaining 5% of the 'pill's' abortifacient effect a moot point.
The 'pill' is comprised of two components - an estrogen-like component and a progesterone-like component.
Progesterone sloughs off the uterine lining beginning about mid-cycle; estrogen builds up uterine tissue. This 'cycle' occurs naturally. The primary reason progesterone is included in OCs and hormone replacement therapy is to prevent the overbuilding of the uterine wall. Not removing this tissue would SUBSTANTIALLY increase the risk/incidence of uterine cancer as well as many other estrogen-dependent effects.
Most OC formulations contain about 50mg or less of estrogen. Because of this controlled [lower*] amount of estrogen there is less uterine tissue build-up. This is the reason why women on OCs tend to have significantly less menstrual bleeding and why women suffering from severe menstrual cramps are often prescribed OCs.
*Because of the endocrine system's positive and negative feedback mechanisms, once the body senses the presence of a particular molecule, it sends a message to the organ in charge of producing this molecule to stop production.
ANY possibility of a pegnacany being aborted is certanly NOT a moot point for many people.
The information quoted is from The Physician’s Desk Reference. This is the most frequently used reference book by physicians in America. The PDR, as it’s often called, lists and explains the effects, benefits, and risks of every medical product that can be legally prescribed. The Food and Drug Administration requires that each manufacturer provide accurate information on its products, based on scientific research and laboratory tests.
As you read the following, keep in mind that the term "implantation," by definition, always involves an already conceived human being. Therefore, any agent which serves to prevent implantation functions as an abortifacient.
This is the PDR’s product information for Ortho-Cept, as listed by Ortho, one of the largest manufacturers of the Pill:
"Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus, which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus, and changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation."
The FDA-required research information on the birth control pills Ortho-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen also state that they cause "changes in…the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation)."
Notice that these changes in the endometrium, and their reduction in the likelihood of implantation, are not stated by the manufacturer as speculative or theoretical effects, but as actual ones. They consider this such a well-established fact that it requires no statement of qualification.
Similarily, Syntex and Wyeth, the other two major pill-manufacturers, say essentially the same thing about their oral contraceptives.
The inserts packaged with birth control pills are condensed versions of longer research papers detailing the Pill’s effects, mechanisms, and risks. Near the end, the insert typically says something like the following, which is taken directly from the Desogen pill insert:
If you want more information about birth control pills, ask your doctor, clinic or pharmacist. They have a more technical leaflet called the Professional Labeling, which you may wish to read. The Professional Labeling is also published in a book entitled Physician’s Desk Reference, available in many bookstores and public libraries.
I really wasn't aware of this and it is NOT a moot point for me. If I had known about this, I would have used a different form of contraception. I was on the pill for 8 years and even if 95% of the time conception was actually prevented, that means that I have actually had about 5 children that I conceived that I unintentionally aborted. That is disturbing to me!
At the time I got on the pill 8 years ago, I was actually leaning in the pro-choice direction, so maybe knowing this at that time would not have mattered so much to me, but over the years I have totally changed my mind on the morality of abortion, and now think that it is totally wrong. I read this post several days ago, and I have been seriously thinking about it since then, and don't really know what to think. I just feel misled...
Would you feel the same way if an ovum had been fertilized but your endometrium was already shedding and therefore the fertilized ovum was unable to implant? Unless you know to the minute at what point your endometrium is too thin for the fertilized ovum to attach itself and for the sloughing off process to stop and then reverse itself in order to allow the ovum to implant itself and get adequate nutrient support, this scenario plays out every cycle - whether or not you're on the pill.
The physiological action of the pill is intended to mimic the normal cycle as closely as possible while, at the same time, reducing the probability of pregnancy. Some formulations are used in fertility clinics to improve uterine health precisely for this reason.
If you're uncomfortable with the way the pill or any medication works, find out how the body normally works and read up on the available alternatives. This way you can make an informed decision that you will feel comfortable with. People who don't like what a particular med does are more likely not to take that med properly and consequently reduce that med's effectiveness.
Of course I don't feel the same way about the natural process of the shedding of the endometrium! I know exactly how my body works, and if an egg is fertilized and doesn't make it due to natural body processes, that just happens sometimes. That is not something that I can directly control.
However, I just found out that something artificial that I did probably caused an already fertilized egg to not implant at some point over the last 8 years, and that is abortion. And I haven't been on birth control for 3 years, and will never be on it again, so there is no reason to be concerned that I won't use it properly. And I really wish that I had realized this at the time I was originally checking into birth control.
I do not believe that we are held morally responsible for what we do not know but when we learn something as significant as this then we should tell others. Please spread the word. PS: On a personal note I have felt mislead also. And although it is not convenient my husband and I have decided together that I would stop taking the pill. As far as another option we have chosen condoms and it has not interfered or lessened our lovemaking. In addition since this and all other forms of birth control are not 100%,except abstinence. ( this is not an option for us ) we are prepared for the possibility of a pregnancy.
[Please note that posting links to religious websites of any denomination is not permitted here. Thanks, mod3]
[This message has been edited by moderator3 (edited 09-20-2002).]