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The Truth About the Birth Control Pill

Here is a letter written to our Catholic Diocesan newspaper.
I would like to respond to Fr. John Dietzen’s article in The Message’s May 24th issue entitled “Other medical uses for the Pill”. After doing my own research and experiencing the side effects first hand, I believe I have an obligation to inform other women of the truth.
According to Family Resources Center News, some women take the Pill to relieve medical problems such as ovarian cysts, heavy periods, etc. The Pill may relieve symptoms, but there are natural methods of relieving those same symptoms and of curing the root problem that are just as effective and much safer then using the Pill. According to American Life League’s Medical Consultant Dr. Stephen Spaulding, whose writings have appeared in a variety of medical journals, the birth control pill comes in many forms, from the progestin-only pill to combinations of progestin and estrogen. Progestins and the estrogen in the Pill are artificial hormones designed to help a woman's body believe that it is pregnant month after month. All the vital organs in her body are affected by the constant use of this pill. It contains powerful steroids that constantly remain present in her body. The Pill's artificial hormones suppress the woman's production of normal progesterone and estrogen. This constant presence of powerful steroids is not healthy, and there are side effects when using the Pill.
The side effects of taking the Pill, especially for long term users are, but are not limited to, acne, weight gain, blood clots, stroke, depression, increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, lowered immunity to STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and the possibility of sterility later in life. "Fertility problems are only the tip of the iceberg for many women...In 1960, when the Pill was first invented, the incidence of breast cancer was one in 25 women; today it is one in eight women," says Kathy Raviele, M.D., an Atlanta physician. A study published last fall [2001] in the Journal of the American Medical Association supports Raviele's supposition that there is a definite link between Pill use and breast cancer. And according to the Physician's Desk Reference, women who took the Pill as teenagers are at higher risk of developing breast cancer when in their 30s than women in the population as a whole. With the increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, I am concerned for the woman who sent in her question to Fr. Dietzen. She said her family has a history of cancer.
One other thing Fr. Dietzen failed to mention was that the couple would have to abstain from sexual intercourse while the woman was taking the Pill. Otherwise, it would be just like taking it for contraceptive reasons. According to the 1999 Physicians Desk Reference, Progestin-only and combination oral contraceptives pills change the lining of the uterus. If fertilization has occurred (i.e., if the sperm and the egg have joined forming a union that denotes the beginning of a new human being), the Pill, by altering the lining of the uterus, may prevent the 5-10 day-old human from attaching to the lining of the uterus, where it would receive the nourishment needed to grow. If attachment does not occur, then this young human is expelled from the body during menstruation. This process is known as a chemical abortion and is why the Pill may be referred to as an abortifacient contraceptive. The Physicians Desk Reference also states that both pills act to prevent the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). However, because the hormone level in pills has been lowered in recent years due to serious physical complications, women can and do experience occasional breakthrough ovulation - meaning that an egg is released from the ovary and is available to be fertilized by the sperm. On American Life League’s website, Dr. Paul Hayes states that some would argue that a couple could use Natural Family Planning (NFP) when using the Pill for medical reasons and simply avoid relations on the days of fertility, though he believes this to be in error as the birth control pill will more frequently eliminate any signs of fertility making the use of NFP impossible.
Our Holy Father, John Paul II has stated over 15 years ago that “Contraception is to be judged so profoundly illicit that it can never be justified for any reason." This seems to close the door on any attempt to use birth control pills for "medical reasons" if there is ever any possibility of a contraceptive effect. Whether the Pill is morally wrong or not when taken for medical reasons, anything that has the possibility of being a contraceptive or abortifacient (causing an abortion) should not be used in my opinion. The risks are too great. Especially if there are natural methods or other approved drugs for treatment that would be safer. Check with your doctor about natural alternatives.
God bless!
Barb McAtee

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