The most common question I get emailed to me goes something like this:
I’m trying to figure out what contraception is morally acceptable to use and would appreciate any info you could send me on research about how hormonal contraception and Plan B prevent implantation. My understanding is that they thin the uterine lining. I’d specifically be interested in studies establishing a correlation between fertility and thickness controlling for all other factors. Or at least given my current understanding of how the drugs work.
Here’s my short answer:
I don’t know whether or not birth control pills or Plan B act as an abortifacient.
“But Josh, there’s so much research and even a booklet that proves hormonal birth control methods thin the endometrium, causing an inhospitable place for the embryo to implant!”
Yes, I’ve seen that research. I totally understand why you might be so convinced that this is an open and shut case. In fact, that used to be my view, and I passionately debated with people who doubted the evidence I communicated to them. But now I have more doubt because I’ve seen a growing body of research that suggests that the issue is more complicated than that.
I think birth control pills might sometimes act as abortifacients. But I’m not willing to say that I know they do, because that would be overstating the case, considering that both sides have scientific reasons for believing that birth control pills may or may not have a cause and effect relationship with the thickness of the endometrium.
When I’m on a college campus and asked by a pro-choice person whether I think birth control pills should be illegal, I take a cue from my colleague Steve Wagner at Justice For All, and say:
As a matter of public policy, I am not opposed to birth control methods that don’t kill anybody.
Obviously the most important question on the morality of birth control pills is whether or not they actually act as abortifacients. While there is an important theological discussion that can be had on whether or not God wants people to plan their families and whether or not it’s wise to take birth control pills that often have negative side effects like loss of libido, but I’m tabling all of that discussion when talking to pro-choice people.
If you’re interested in exploring this topic a bit from a different perspective, here are the six resources I think you should start with. All of these involve my colleague Dr. Rich Poupard from Life Training Institute. Dr. Poupard is an oral surgeon and has read many studies on this issue, and believe pro-life advocates would be wise to not overstate their case on this subject until more research comes out.
#1: Interview with Dr. Poupard – “How Should Pro-Lifers Talk About Birth Control?”
Includes an explanation of the recent research that Plan B is ineffective for any woman who weighs over 175 pounds and why this research will probably result in even more loss of life.
#2: Follow-Up Discussion with Dr. Poupard on Birth Control Pills and Plan B
We didn’t have enough time in the video to get all of my questions answered, so we recorded this bonus audio, which answered a lot of the most common questions from pro-lifers on this topic.
#3: Does a Thin Uterine Lining Support the “Pill as Baby Killer” Theory?
A Christian named Marie was very upset with Dr. Poupard and I when we released those two resources, and engaged in lengthy comments rebuking us. It was only after she read this article from Dr. Poupard did she do a 180 and publicly apologize.
#4: Be Careful Out There (When Discussing Emergency Contraception)
It is very easy to read misleading headlines and then overstate what the evidence actually shows. Pro-life advocates ought to be thought of as people who think carefully, and this post is a helpful lesson on that.
#5: What about the FDA Information?
One of the most common arguments I see pro-life advocates make on this topic is that most of the birth control packages state that the hormones can cause thinning of the uterus lining. Dr. Poupard explains why this isn’t a compelling argument.
#6: Clarifying Confusion about OCPs
In response to Marie’s public rebuke, Dr. Poupard offers three reasons why the assertion that LNG, the progestin found in Plan B, works as a competitive antagonist for progesterone receptors is not supported in the literature.
The post “6 Resources on Whether or Not Birth Control Pills Cause Abortions” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.com. Click here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”
Header image courtesy of Bryan Calabro – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution from Wikimedia Commons.
Question: What are your thoughts? If you read or listened to at least one of the resources listed above, did it affect your thinking on this issue at all? Why or why not?