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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Morning-after pills may not cause abortion (in any sense)

Morning-after contraceptive pills may prevent pregnancy after intercourse, from rape or other circumstances.

Some people claim that these pills lead to an abortion. That's not true, unless loss of a fertilized egg or non-implanted embryo is part of the definition of an abortion, which it shouldn't be. However, to some people, loss of a fertilized egg, or a non-implanted embryo is loss of human life, and deliberately acting so as to cause such losses is equivalent to murder, so, whether such a loss is called an abortion or not doesn't matter to them.

A recent report by National Public Radio indicates that at least some morning-after pills do not cause such losses. A study shows that "Women who took the drug after ovulation got pregnant at the same rate as those who took nothing at all," which is strong evidence that the drug is not preventing implantation. If it were, such women would be expected to have gotten pregnant less often. Not only that, but Italy, where laws are often strongly influenced by Catholic belief, now allows one morning-after pill, and the Catholic bishops of Germany have approved the use of such medications for rape victims. According to Fox News, these bishops consulted with the Vatican before giving such approval.

So how do these medications work? Apparently, they prevent ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovary. Unless you want to call that abortion, or murder, the use of such pills, at least in some cases, should not violate most people's consciences.

Thanks for reading.


atlibertytosay said...

I certainly agree with this perspective.

Is it not true that fertilized eggs OFTEN abort themselves due to diet, stress, sickness, deformity of division and even use of birth control after pregnancy?

I think some argue with these points rather than a specific "within 12 to 24 hours after pill" …

1) Some women use the morning after pill as a contraceptive - it is NOT a healthy means of doing so

2) Some use the pill after implantation int the uterus.

3) Some use the pill as a backup for consistent promiscuity - which I'm certain the Bible speaks specifically against.

Martin LaBar said...

I wouldn't say "abort themselves," although I guess some would. To me, an abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, after the embryo has been implanted in the uterine wall. Accidental, or non-voluntary, loss of an implanted embryo is a miscarriage, not an abortion. And perhaps about 50% of embryos are lost in this way, in many cases without the woman even realizing that she was pregnant.

As the Wikipedia article I referenced says, "The primary mechanism of action of combined estrogen-progestogen emergency contraceptive pills is to prevent fertilization by inhibition of ovulation." It also says that "morning-after pill" is misleading terminology, since, to be effective, the substances should be used quickly.

Yes, such substances might be used to escape the consequences of sin.

Thanks for your comment.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Martin

I'm curious: when you say that a medication that targets the outcome for a fertilized egg or not-yet-implanted embryo "shouldn't be" counted as abortion -- what is your personal line between "should" / "shouldn't" based on?

Take care & God bless

Martin LaBar said...

It's based on how I think abortion should be defined:

"To me, an abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, after the embryo has been implanted in the uterine wall."

I'm not saying that other means of terminating pregnancy are necessarily morally acceptable -- they may not be. I'm saying that they aren't abortions.

Thanks for your comment.