When I was nineteen I saw my doctor regarding ongoing medical problems with my menstrual cycle during that visit my doctor prescribed an oral contraceptive otherwise known as the birth control pill. It was his catch-all response to any reproductive medical problem I presented and unfortunately many women face the same outcome. They go to their doctor seeking medical guidance and assistance for their reproductive health only to be told “Take the birth control pill.” Without any additional assistance offered and often with their doctors glossing over the serious health risks, such as blood clots, strokes, cancers and harm to the overall environment associated its usage. Further, when I took the prescription from him I, like many women, did not know the birth control pill also could work as an abortifacient. After reading more about it and talking with women over the years I have been surprised to find how many other women were not aware of this.
How does the birth control pill work?
Well, the birth control pill has three mechanisms in preventing pregnancy. The first two mechanisms are contraceptive (working against or contra the natural order) in their nature and the third mechanism is both contraceptive and abortive. The first mechanism works via the hormones within the contraceptive to prohibit ovulation and no egg (ovum) is released. The second mechanism causes a thickening of the woman’s cervical mucus to prevent sperm from being able to properly function hindering its motility and preventing the sperm from possibly fertilizing the egg. Finally, there is the third mechanism and this is the one mechanism that is the abortifacient aspect of this form of contraception. The third mechanism works as such that birth control pill causes the lining of the endometrium to thin out to the point that it becomes unable to sustain the implantation of the newly-fertilized egg.
What this means is if the first two mechanisms fail to work in their contraceptive nature then the woman’s egg is released during ovulation and as a result the egg could become fertilized by her husband’s sperm and the result is a human embryo. A human embryo contains the entire DNA of the newly formed human being; fully human in scientific terms. However, the third mechanism of the oral contraceptive through its thinning of the uterine lining attempts to prevent the newly formed human embryo from implanting. The final result in this case could be the aborting of the human embryo. The makers of the birth control pill state it is indeed a mechanism of how pregnancy is prevented and they have no reason to lie. In fact, it would probably benefit them to keep that point a secret when one thinks about it.
Additionally, many people don’t realize is that the morning after pill works in the same fashion with the same three mechanisms as the regular birth control pill. Think about it as a society many recognize the dangerous aspects of using the morning after pill (emergency contraception) because it can prevent implantation but do not know that the birth control pill also does the same thing. In fact, a version of emergency contraception may be simply taking a higher dosage of the birth control pill or using an IUD.
Moreover, how many babies are born each year to women who thought that the birth control pill would prevent a pregnancy? According the CDC the birth control pill in its various forms is only 92%-99% effective meaning that we know for a fact that sometimes all three mechanisms “fail” and implantation occurs thus it is logical, based on the birth control pill’s own stated facts of how it works, that some human embryos are aborted via this third mechanism.
I also want to state I am not writing this to argue with, scare or condemn anyone for past or present choices but to help provide information that I know I once did not have. When we know better, we can do better. Also as Catholics we have the ability to receive forgiveness available through the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we have willingly engaged in contraception to plan our families. If we have a serious or just reason to avoid a pregnancy, discerned through prayer as a couple, then we may use Natural Family Planning (which is as effective when properly used as the birth control pill) to work with God in this need versus against (contra) God. If we are seeking medical treatment we have the ability to now turn to Natural Family Planning doctors (such as Pope Paul VI Institute) who may be able to help us and provide medical treatments without violating our beliefs on life.
Further, as women who may suffer with various reproductive health problems that the birth control is prescribed to supposedly treat (which it does not, it only masks these problems, managing at most to deal with symptoms not treatments) we deserve better. We deserve medical treatments that work with the natural order as God intended, as many Natural Family Planning doctors actively work to do. However, we deserve not only for Natural Family Planning doctors to do this but for the medical community at large to research more into the root cause(s) of various reproductive health problems we as women may face, improving our overall health, and to provide us with medical alternatives to the birth control pill that do not work against human life while working with God and His natural order.
Beth is a married homeschooling mom of 5 very energetic children. She is also an adjunct professor & research consultant. She and her husband are cradle Catholics who returned to the Catholic Church in 2005.