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Friday, November 4, 2011

40 Days for Life and Amendment 26

I didn't go to the 40 Days for Life Closing vigil, partly for reasons described in previous posts, partly because of the weather.  I wasn't sure I'd make it down there in time, and because of the rain the city streets were a bit slippery. In Syracuse, New York, 40 Days reports that Planned Parenthood would not even give a pregnancy test if the couple wasn't considering abortion.

Much in the news in pro-life circles is Mississippi's Amendment 26, which if passed would state that the pre-born child is a person beginning at conception.  Organizations such as Planned Parenthood and others have fought against this amendment with a number of arguments.  Probably the most pernicious of these is the claim that Amendment 26 would ban the use of contraceptives.  Pro-lifers have fought back against such arguments, but if their efforts fail to sway voters it will be in part because of the long-standing opposition of many pro-lifers to the use of birth control.

In the case of hormonal contraceptives this opposition stems in part from observations that the endometrium, or uterine lining, thins out and becomes less vascular while a woman is on the pill, and this is believed to make it harder for the new being to implant in the uterine lining.  But there are some discrepancies with this premise that some pro-life physicians began to note in the 1990s.

For one thing, these changes to the uterine lining are noted during anovulatory cycles, i.e. when a woman is not ovulating.  More important, implantation is known to take place in environments far more hostile than an endometrium thinned by oral contraceptives, such as in the Fallopian tube in ectopic pregnancy.  Moreover, in cases where the uterine lining is sparse or absent the child has been known to implant directly in the uterine muscle.  This leads to a condition called placenta accreta, where the placenta has to be surgically removed at delivery.

From time to time vigil participants have handed out literature saying the pill causes early abortions, and it's often made me wonder about younger people who would show up in our group for a week or so, and then drop out.

The IUD is also believed to act abortively, and in there is stronger evidence that this is the case, at least when it's used as emergency contraception.  The progestin IUD is believed to thicken cervical mucus the same way contraceptive pills do, and the copper IUD is believed to have a spermicidal effect.  The latter is approved for emergency contraception, and is considered much more effective for this purpose than either levonorgestrel (Plan B) or ulipristal (ellaOne).  This is perhaps quite telling, because people who argue the effectiveness of Plan B and even ella can be accounted for by actions that take place before fertilization admit the IUD's very high effectiveness means it must act post-fertilization.  In fact people are so confident of this that its use as EC has been recommended 7-12 days after unprotected sex, which would make it abortive even by ACOG's definition.  

An update Nov. 8:  The Associated Press reports that 26 failed by a huge margin.
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"Love can be seen as the answer, but nobody bleeds for the dancer"--Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)