Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Pill - Still the World's Favorite "Contraceptive"

Oral contraceptives (aka the “Pill”) are the world’s most popular temporary contraceptive, followed by condoms.[1] The Pill and condoms retain those “win” and “place” positions, in the horse race that is the U.S. contraceptive market.[2]

The Pill is widely identified as one type of hormonal contraceptive. Despite this “contraceptive” label, the Pill can prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in a new mom’s uterus.[3] Rather than contraceptive, that’s an early abortion! Because of this abortifacient potential, the term “contraceptive” is certainly inadequate. Yet, it is not only pre-born children, for whom the Pill can be lethal.

Planned Parenthood acknowledges health risks from oral contraceptives, which are multiplied for women with certain “conditions”:
· 35+ years of age and a smoker
· high blood pressure and a smoker (or uncontrolled high blood pressure)
· certain diabetes-related conditions
· certain blood-clotting disorders
as well as for women with certain items in their medical histories:
· blood clots or inflammation of veins
· heart attack or stroke
· heart valve problems
· migraine headaches, featuring an aura
· liver disease or tumors
If not yet ruled out, they go on to advise you to stay away from the new Yasmin (Yaz) oral contraceptive, if “you have ever had kidney, liver, or adrenal gland disease.”[4]

So, what are the “health risks”? Planned Parenthood acknowledges risks of
· heart attack,
· stroke,
· blood clots,
· high blood pressure,
· liver tumors,
· gallstones, and
· jaundice.
However, Planned Parenthood tries to comfort us, that these are only “fatal in very rare cases.”[5] While they maintain that “the pill has little, if any, effect on the risk of developing breast cancer,”[6] they also advise us to “See the insert from your pack of pills for more information about possible side effects.”[7] According to its own annual report, Planned Parenthood had $356.9 million in health center income (for the year which ended June 30, 2007), 38% of which came from contraceptives.[8]

If oral contraceptives are potentially abortifacient and pose grave risks to women, why are they so popular? Other than for a skit on Saturday Night Live, who could have imagined, a generation ago, that prime time television would feature commercials for birth control pills which ostensibly fight acne? Follow the money, in regard to oral contraceptives and the seemingly few restrictions on marketing them into your home.[9]

Central New Jersey has been a longtime home to the leading manufacturers of hormonal contraceptives. Two decades ago, Ortho (of New Brunswick’s Johnson and Johnson) and Wyeth (of Madison) were already grossing almost one billion dollars from oral contraceptives in the U.S.[10] By 2006, hormonal contraceptives was a $6 billion industry, worldwide.[11] Ortho-McNeil and Wyeth are now two of the world’s top three manufacturers of hormonal contraceptives.[12] Those two giants are not Jersey’s only players in hormonal contraceptives. Montvale’s Barr Pharmaceuticals is one of the others. Barr’s financial prospectus was recently upgraded significantly, largely due to its rights with a new oral contraceptive.[13]

If not humanitarian players on the world stage, many believe that pharmaceutical giants play innocuous roles in our foreign relations. As per the U.S. Agency for International Development, “a handful of multinational companies account for the majority of hormonal contraceptive brands registered around the world….[There is] an oligopoly that benefits Western-based large contraceptive manufacturers.”[14] Why do we fail to scrutinize the impact of contraceptive marketeering, on our lack of popularity in many developing nations?

Methods of Natural Family Planning can be readily used by married couples, in manners which pose absolutely no health risks. As they involve no foreign objects or chemicals, methods of Natural Family Planning are absolutely safe for wife, husband, and pre-born child. As reported in the journal, Human Reproduction, “The STM [Sympto Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning] is a highly effective family planning method, provided the appropriate guidelines are consistently adhered to” [15]

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated July 20th to July 26th as Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.

[1] Ruth Levine, Ana Langer, Nancy Birdsall, Gaverick Matheny, Merrick Wright, and Angela Bayer, "Contraception." 2006. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (2nd Edition),ed. , 1,075-1,090. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1596/978-0-821-36179-5/Chpt-57. <>

[2] Guttmacher Institute, Facts on Contraceptive Use , January 2008 <>

[3] Abortifacient <>

[4] Planned Parenthood, Who Can Take the Pill ?<>

[5] Planned Parenthood, Birth Contyrol Pill <>

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Planned Parenthood, Annual Report 2006 – 2007 <>

[9] Alan Klein and Carrie E. Nelson, Pharmaceutical Advertising and the Learned Intermediary Defense, The Legal Intelligencer, October 7, 2005 <>

[10] Milt Freudenheim, Birth Control Industry Is Being Transformed, NY Times, February 22, 1989 <>

[11] IMS Health, Systemic Hormonal Contraceptives: Schering goes from strength to strength <>

[12] U.S. Agency for International Development, Improving Hormonal Contraceptive Supply, 2006 <>

[13] CNN, Ahead of the Bell: Barr Pharmaceuticals, May 13, 2008 <>

[14] U.S. Agency for International Development, Improving Hormonal Contraceptive Supply, 2006 <>

[15] P. Frank-Herrmann, J. Heil, C. Gnoth, E. Toledo, S. Baur, C. Pyper, E. Jenetzky, T. Strowitzki and G. Freundl, The Effectiveness of a Fertility Awareness Based Method to Avoid Pregnancy in Relation to a Couple's Sexual Behaviour During the Fertile Time: a Prospective Longitudinal Study, Human Reproduction, February 20, 2007 <>

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