Director, Ashtabula Friends for Life
When Does Life Begin?Life begins at fertilization (conception), that moment when a sperm joins with an ovum (egg) to form one cell called a zygote. The characteristics of this new person, such as sex, eye and hair color, intelligence, etc. are determined as he or she inherits 23 chromosomes from each parent at fertilization. This tiny child then travels down the Fallopian tube into the uterus. The new human implants herself in the rich lining of the uterus and begins to draw nourishment. This process takes approximately 5 to 10 days to complete. During this journey the miniscule child is often mistakenly referred to as a "fertilized egg", even by well-meaning pro-lifers. We must understand, however, that once the egg is fertilized it is no longer an egg, but a human being.
"Reproductive rights" advocates try to confuse the issue by redefining the fact of when life begins. They often propose that a pregnancy does not begin until implantation, not fertilization, and therefore they argue that many birth control methods we call abortifacient aren’t since they act before implantation, before life, they say, exists. But according to medical texts and agreed upon by medical professionals, "life begins at fertilization."
Contraceptives vs. AbortifacientsA distinction exists between contraceptive birth control and abortifacient birth control.
prevention of conception.
-- Webster's Dictionary
"All the measures which impair the viability of the zygote at any time between the instant of fertilization and the completing of labor constitute, in the strict sense, procedures for inducing abortion."1Although 1.6 million surgical abortions take place each year in the U.S., Dr. Bogomir Kuhar, a pharmacist concerned about chemical abortion, has calculated that in combining all forms of induced abortion -- the IUD, Depo-Provera, Norplant, surgical, and the Pill (and injectables, implants, and oral products that work in a similar fashion), between 9.6 and 13.4 million young lives are terminated in the U.S. alone each year.2 Pro-abortion organizations readily admit the early abortion potential of these methods. In February 1992, writing in opposition to a Louisiana law banning abortion, Ruth Colker, a Tulane Law School professor, wrote,
"Because nearly all birth control devices, except the diaphragm and condom, operate between the time of conception ... and implantation ..., the statute would appear to ban most contraceptives (sic)."3
The "Pill"The Pill is taken orally, usually every day. There are two kinds of Pills. The "combined Pill" contains both estrogen and progestin. The second type is a progestin-only Pill sometimes called the "mini-pill". Both kinds have three ways of working:
- they prevent ovulation by suppressing the part of the brain which signals for ovulation to begin,
- they change the lining of the cervix to make it more difficult for sperm to pass through, or
- they prevent implantation of a newly conceived human life on the lining of the womb.4
- lowering the efficiency with which the Fallopian tubes propel eggs or a newly conceived human (embryo) from the ovaries toward the uterus. This can cause the embryo not to reach the uterus in time to implant successfully.5
- affecting the corpus luteum (a gland that controls the woman’s cycle and normally functions long enough to give an embryo time to implant and for the placenta to begin to support a pregnancy), causing it to allow the lining of the uterus to be shed before the embryo can successfully implant.6
"fundamentally, these pills take over the menstrual cyle from the normal endocrine mechanisms. And in so doing they inhibit ovulation and change the characteristics of the uterus so that it is not receptive to a fertilized egg (sic)".7The action of the progestin-only Pill ("mini-pill") appears to be even more consistently abortifacient. When Syntex Laboratories, Inc. released the progestin-only Pill which it had developed, spokesman Russ Wilks announced that it did not
"interfere with ovulation ... It seems to affect the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) so that a fertilized egg (sic) cannot be implanted".8The FDA’s detailed patient labeling for oral contraceptives (sic) says,
"progestin-only contraceptives (sic) are known to alter the cervical mucus, exert a progestinal (sic) effect on the endometrium, interfering with implantation, and, in some patients, suppress ovulation."9Very conservative estimates state that the Pill kills pre-born children between 2 and 10% of the time.10 However, many medications and other external factors increase the abortion-causing nature of the Pill.11 Also, since 1988, the amount of the contraceptive component of the Pill was lowered, which allows the abortion-causing component to come into play more often. It is estimated that some forms of the Pill of today cause abortions up to 50% of the time.12 Emory University’s Contraceptive Technology published that the "mini-pills" allow ovulation to take place 40 to 60% of the time.
IUDThe IUD (intra-uterine device), is an object that is placed inside the uterus (womb) by a physician. When in place, it and the chemical it contains alters the fluids in the womb and the lining of the womb. The presence of the IUD irritates the lining, causing any newly conceived child to be unable to implant. The baby dies and passes out of the mother’s body unnoticed. According to the American Medical Association (AMA) Committee on Human Reproduction,
"the action of the ZUDs would seem to lie a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation (implantation) of an already fertilized ovum (sic) has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of the action."13In an exhaustive survey of over 400 articles on the subject, Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers concluded,
"... the condusion is that the primary action of the IUD must be classed as abortifacient." 14
Depo-ProveraDepo-Provera is a long-acting, man-made hormone in an injection received every three months. It has been available in some parts of the world for 20 years or more and has been used by doctors specifically to abort children. That is why Depo-Provera was not approved in the U.S. until recently. It has the usual progestin mechanisms of action (as the Pill): suppressing ovulation in some cases; altering the mucus in the cervix; or altering the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.15 Depo-Provera may cause abortions 40 to 60% of the time.16
NorplantNorplant is also a progesterone drug which is becoming increasingly popular despite its significant risks and difficulty of removal. (As of August 1996, in Texas alone, over 68 federal lawsuits against its manufacturer, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, have been consolidated.) The drug is encased in 5 or 6 flexible capsules or rods, which are surgically implanted beneath the skin on the inside of the upper arm, and is designed to be effective for up to five years. Pregnancy is avoided through suppressed ovulation or aborted due to failed implantation of the baby. Studies show that it may cause abortions 50 to 65% of the time.17
Emergency Contraception (Morning-After Pill)Emergency Contraception is one brand of the Pill. Preven is the only type approved by the FDA as of Spring, 1999. It is manufactured in higher dosages (up to eight times the normal dose), and packaged and marketed specifically for after-intercourse use. Preven is designed to be taken up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse and still be effective. Like all oral products, Preven can and does prevent implantation of an embryo and is therefore abortifacient.
Anti-Fertility VaccinesSince the early 1970’s the World Health Organization has been funding research on a vaccine that would make a woman’s immune system attack and destroy her own babies in the womb. Two such vaccines being researched are the anti-hCG and the Trophoblastic Antigen (TBA) vaccines.
AlternativesFor the married couple, Natural Family Planning (NFP) provides a medically safe, healthy, highly effective and very low cost method of planning your family. For more information on NFP, contact The Couple to Couple League at (513) 471-2000. For the unmarried couple, abstinence is recommended.
- Public Health Service leaflet no. 1066, U.S. Dept. of Health Education and Welfare, 1963, 27.
- Lawrence Roberge, The Cost of Abortion. La Grange, GA: Four Winds, 1995, p 7.
- Colker R (Feb. 6,1992). Louisiana abortion is a very real threat to women, The Dallas Morning News, 23A.
- The Pill: How does it work? Is it safe?, Couple to Couple League Intl Inc (513)471-2000, (1993), pp 2-3.; and Ehmann, Dr. Rudolf, Abortifacient Contraception: the Pharmaceutical Holocaust, Human Life Intl., (540)635-7884, (1993), p 1.
- Bronson RA (Sept 1981). Oral contraception: mechanism of action. Clin Ob Gyn 24 (3) 873-874.
- Hatcher RA (1988) 192.
- J. Richard Crout quoted in the FDA Consumer, HEW pub. no. 76-3024, reprinted from May, 1976.
- Russ Wilks quoted in a United Press International release carried in the Cincinnati Post, Jan 11, 1973.
- Federal Register, loc. cit.
- Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives, 2nd ed., Eternal Life, (1994), p 1.
- Ibid., p 2. Ehmann pp 16-17.
- The Birth Control Game: Gambling With Life, American Life League / Pharmacists for Life, (866)538-5483, (1990), p 2.
- American Medical Association Committee on Human Reproduction, "Evaluation of intrauterine contraception device", Journal of the Amercian Medical Assocation, 199:9, Feb. 27, 1967, p 155.
- Thomas W Hilgers, "The intrauterine device: contraceptive or abortifacient?", Minnesota Medicine, June 1974, pp 493-581.
- Bogomir Kuhar, Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives, Eternal Life Publishing (1995)
- Ibid, p 28.