Ethics News

News: Contraception, Birth Control


>> = Important Articles; ** = Major Articles


>>School clinics to offer new contraceptive (Ottawa Citizen, 970908)

**The Truth Behind Abortion Pills (, 100915)

**Most Evangelical Leaders OK with Birth Control (Christian Post, 100610)

Condom Use Soaring; Better Sex Ed Credited (970609)

Abortion-Rights Group to Distribute Abortion Pill for U.S. Trials (970702)

Fonda, condom industry take aim at abstinence (Washington Times, 971015)

Condoms and Sex Don’t Mix for Youth (971217)

U.S. urged to spend more to prevent teen pregnancy (980428)

U.S. Reports Encouraging Decline in Teen Birth Rates (980430)

Report: Contraceptive use spreading in Africa (980504)

Sex Ed Teachers in Md. County Can’t Urge Students to Wait Until Marriage (Foxnews, 011115)

Births to High-School Girls Fall to Record Low (991026)

“No Magic Pill”: Holly Patterson, R.I.P (National Review, 030926)

Company Targets Teens With Hip-Hop Condoms (Foxnews, 040108)

FDA Blasted for Abortion Pill Deaths (Foxnews, 041116)

RU-486 Gets Bad Rap (Foxnews, 041130)

Health Plans: An Ethical Prescription (Foxnews, 041108)

A Conflict of Conscience—The Culture War Hits the Pharmacy (Christian Post, 050421)

Holly’s Law [danger of RU-486] (Free Congress Foundation, 050316)

Control Issues (Christian Post, 050919)

Abortion Drug Adverse Events Reported (Foxnews, 051230)

Pope Blasts Abortion Pills, Gay Unions (Foxnews, 060112)

Massachusetts Pharmacy Board Orders Wal-Mart to Carry Plan B Drugs (LifeNews, 060213)

Can Christians Use Birth Control? (Mohler, 060508)

Mystery Widens Over Abortion Pill-Related Deaths (Christian Post, 060511)

Pope’s rejection of condoms a ‘denial of the epidemic’ (National Post, 090318)

Bishop Speaks Out Against Contraception in Schools (Christian Post, 090421)

Italy Gives OK to RU486 Abortion Pill (Christian Post, 090731)

China Tries to Sterilize 10,000 Parents Over One-Child Rule (Foxnews, 100416)

Pro-Lifers Blast FDA Approval of ‘Abortion Drug’ Ella (Christian Post, 100816)





>>School clinics to offer new contraceptive (Ottawa Citizen, 970908)


Officials hope injectable drug will help reduce teen pregnancies


A controversial new injectable contraceptive will soon be offered at school-based sexual health clinics across the region in a bid to reduce unwanted pregnancies and teen abortions.


The Ottawa-Carleton Health Department will begin offering teen girls injections of Depo-Provera at four school clinics this month. The contraceptive will also be offered to clients at the department’s main Sexual Health Centre on Clarence Street.


Depo-Provera, a synthetic hormone that’s injected every three months, has been used worldwide since 1967.


Although it has been used in Canada since 1962 to treat endometriosis and endometrial, kidney and breast cancers, Health Canada only approved Depo-Provera for contraceptive use in April because of early studies linking it to breast cancer.


The regional health department believes Depo-Provera is a practical and safe alternative for teens and young women who don’t want to take, or have trouble complying with, birth control pills.


“Typically Depo-Provera was for young adults, like your university crowd, or perhaps older females who have more or less finished planning their family and are still looking for some kind of birth control,” said Manon Morin, manager of the health department’s healthy sexuality program.


“What we are thinking is, can we make it as popular with our teenage population, because we know there are compliance problems with the oral contraceptive.”


More than 30 million women worldwide have turned to Depo-Provera as an easy alternative to other contraceptives. It contains a synthetic hormone similar to natural progesterone that suppresses the release of a mature egg.


It is considered 99.7 per cent effective, making it the most effective protection against unwanted pregnancy.


Unlike the birth control pill, which a woman must take at the same time every day, Depo-Provera is administered by injection once every 13 weeks.


There were 964 pregnancies in Ottawa-Carleton among girls aged 15 to 19 in 1994, the most recent figures available.


Of those, there were 398 live births, one stillbirth and 565 abortions. The abortion rate has been rising slowly but steadily since 1990.




**The Truth Behind Abortion Pills (, 100915)

Virginia Foxx


The abortion industry is in celebratory mode these days. They are rapidly achieving a long hoped-for goal of making chemical abortions more acceptable and easily accessible. The problem is they are resorting to profound and dangerous deception to get what they want.


On Friday, August 13 – after 5 p.m., when most of the nation’s capital had left for a lazy summer weekend – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly announced approval of “ella,” a new and more effective “Emergency Contraceptive (EC).” Although the drug is officially categorized as an EC, if you read the enclosed label closely, you will read that “alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy.” That’s a scientific, confusing and perhaps less jolting way of saying “ella can abort an already implanted baby.”


On further investigation of ella’s label, you will find that in studies done involving pregnant animals, all the baby rats and half of the baby rabbits were aborted as a result of the drug. This information comes as no surprise given that ella has an almost identical chemical makeup as the one FDA approved abortion drug in the United States, mifepristone, popularly known as RU-486. Ella and RU-486 are both selected progesterone receptor modulators (SPRM). Ella is the first ever SPRM to be approved as an EC. SPRMs block progesterone which a developing baby needs to survive its first weeks of life. In essence, ella and RU-486 “starve” a baby of necessary nutrition, thereby causing its demise.


Unfortunately, the average woman taking ella will not know about the drug’s abortifacient capacity because frankly, the label doesn’t make it easy to understand this particular mechanism of action. This is a serious violation of a woman’s right to informed consent. The difference between preventing and destroying life is hugely significant. Women deserve to know what drugs are doing to their bodies and their babies. Studies show that as many as 40% of women would not use a form of contraception if they learned that it worked after implantation.


In early August, 91 members of Congress, including fourteen Democrats, sent a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg expressing serious concerns that ella not be approved unless there was evidence it would not cause an abortion before and after implantation. According to the letter, “If ella will be marketed as an EC, women deserve to see evidence demonstrating that ella will not destroy or harm an unborn child.”


The letter raised critical questions about the similarities between ella and RU-486, and the lack of research conducted to show that ella will not cause abortions. The letter also addressed the very likely dangers of off-label drug use, as well as ella’s potential health risks for women.


RU-486 has been known to suppress a woman’s immune system, making her more prone to infection and bleeding. Evidence of this includes the over 1000 adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in the few years following the approval of RU-486, including six deaths. Because of the chemical similarity between ella and RU-486, there are serious concerns that ella will have similar side effects.


Ignoring these concerns demonstrates that the FDA is motivated by advancing an abortion agenda more than providing Americans with the necessary information for informed consent. This, from an Administration that has repeatedly promised a commitment to “transparency” and “science.” Interestingly, the FDA recently issued a warning letter to the company Novartis about false labeling of a cancer drug. Sadly, the same labeling standards are not applied to drugs that can cause abortions.


There is another grave component to this discussion that one need consider: Approval of ella might open the back door to taxpayer funding of abortion. Due to annual appropriations restrictions on funding abortion, Congress does not allow Medicaid and certain other government programs to pay for abortions (except in the case of life, rape and incest). These abortion funding restrictions apply to the abortion drug RU-486. However, the government does pay for ECs. Therefore, since the FDA has categorized ella as an EC, rather than as an abortifacient, it is very likely that the government will begin paying for ella.


The truth is that abortion drugs are not about women’s health but are really a seemingly innocuous means of advancing a radical agenda. Little pills, given by a doctor, seem both easy and reassuring.


For both women and their unborn children, they can be deadly. The FDA owes the American people the honesty to admit it.




**Most Evangelical Leaders OK with Birth Control (Christian Post, 100610)


A majority of evangelical leaders approve of artificial methods of contraception, a new survey reveals.


The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 churches in the United States, released a report Tuesday showing that nearly 90% approve of contraception.


Several leaders, however, expressed opposition to drugs or procedures that terminate a pregnancy once conception has taken place.


“Most associate evangelicals with Catholics in their steady leadership in pro-life advocacy, and rightly so,” said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE, in a statement. “But it may come as a surprise that unlike the Catholic church, we are open to contraception.”


Evangelicals in the pews hold similar views. A 2009 poll conducted by the NAE in partnership with Gallup, Inc., found that at least 90% of evangelicals say hormonal/barrier methods of contraception are morally acceptable for adults.


Surveyed leaders in the most recent poll said the purpose of sex is not limited to procreation but it extends to the consummation and expression of love within marriage.


“Our leaders indicate that contraception can be utilized if all biblical purposes of sex are upheld and that it may actually aid in keeping the balance,” Anderson noted.


The survey comes weeks after the NAE released a “Theology of Sex” resource to help inspire discussions about sex within the church and as part of an effort to reduce abortions in the country. The resource lists four reasons for sex, including “one-flesh union” to consummate marriage, procreation, expression of love to one’s spouse, and enjoyment and pleasure.


Though overwhelmingly open to various forms of contraception, some leaders gave approval with caution.


While giving his OK, George Brushaber, president emeritus of Bethel University, noted that contraception should be used “with proper biblical and medical guidance.”


And Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together, stressed that churches have a responsibility to communicate and preach the importance of family.


“[C]ouples should not carelessly allow themselves to use contraception as a way to avoid having children and a growing family altogether,” he said.


Though some have argued that it is sinful to regulate the timing and number of children since children are gifts from God, many evangelical leaders believe otherwise.


Minneapolis preacher John Piper has stated, independent of the survey, that just because something is a gift from the Lord, it does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether one will come into possession of it.


Nevertheless, God is in control whether a married couple uses birth control or not.


“The hands of the almighty are not tied by birth control,” he has argued. “A couple will have children precisely at the time God wants, whether they use birth control or not.”


Randy Bell of the Association for Biblical Higher Education can testify to that.


“I can say from personal experience that God can defeat such methods if he chooses to do so,” said Bell, who also believes Scripture does not prohibit most common methods of contraception.


Results are based on a monthly poll of the NAE Board of Directors who include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.




Condom Use Soaring; Better Sex Ed Credited (970609)


ATLANTA — Researchers say a concern about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are behind the soaring increase in condom use.


Results of a large survey show condom use among women has more than doubled since 1982, with 7.9 million saying they had their partner wear one during sex in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a survey issued Thursday.


The figure is up from 3.6 million in 1982,


The survey of 10,847 women age 15 to 44 also found that more than half of women who had intercourse for the first time between 1990 and 1995 made their partner wear a condom, up from 18% in the 1970s.


“Clearly, concern over HIV and sexually transmitted diseases accounted for this,” said William D. Mosher, a CDC statistician. “Most of that increase was among never-married women. That’s an encouraging finding.”


The statistics are the first released from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. The survey of health issues has been conducted since 1973. It was last done in 1988.


Health officials credit sex education for the increase in condom use. The survey found that 91% of 18- and 19-year-olds had been told about birth control before they turned 18, as had about 64% of women between ages 20 and 24. Questions about sex ed were not asked in the 1988 survey.


Before 1980, half of women said they used some form of birth control at first intercourse. That jumped to 76% in the 1990s, the survey said.


“While we are celebrating that people are protecting themselves at a much higher rate, almost one quarter are not using anything,” said David Landry, a senior research associate for the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive issues. “It’s likely that this remaining 24% is a harder population to reach. We still have a ways to go.”


Sterilization is still the No. 1 form of birth control, with 18% of women choosing it. Birth control pills are next, used by 17% of women, followed by 13% whose partners use a condom. Far down the list is the diaphragm.


“In 1982, the diaphragm was one of the top choices of unmarried, college-educated women,” Mosher said. “Today, we think only 700,000 women across the United States use one.”


Rarer are hormonal implants and injections and the female condom.




Abortion-Rights Group to Distribute Abortion Pill for U.S. Trials (970702)


NEW YORK (AP) — A small abortion-rights group is planning to make the abortion pill available for free to 10,000 U.S. women in research trials as a stopgap measure until the drug can be distributed nationally, The New York Times reported today.


Lawrence Lader, president of the New York-based Abortion Rights Mobilization, will announce the plan today, the Times said.


The group already provided the drug, mifepristone, to 1,000 women in clinical trials in Rochester, N.Y., Bellevue, Neb., Burlington, Vt., Kalispell, Mont., New York, San Francisco and Seattle.


With new funding from the John Merck Fund, the nonprofit group plans to announce additional sites in New York, Texas, Maryland and Florida.


“We have the money and this will provide coverage for women in all different parts of the country,” Lader told the newspaper.


The drug, known in France as RU-486, provides an alternative to surgical abortion. The Food and Drug Administration granted the group permission to test the drug, but does not let groups charge women for drugs used in such trials.


The Population Council holds the U.S. patent rights to manufacture the drug, but has suffered a series of setbacks in marketing the drug. In 1994, Roussel-Uclaf, the French company that developed the drug, donated the rights to avoid incurring the wrath of anti-abortion groups in the United States.


Other groups can copy patented drugs for research use as long as they don’t offer them commercially.




Fonda, condom industry take aim at abstinence (Washington Times, 971015)


Jane Fonda, backed by the world’s largest condom marketer, has helped escalate the debate over whether to push condoms or chastity on America’s teens by launching a campaign against the new government-funded abstinence-education program.


“The Durex company ... was stunned as many Americans were that the federal government starting today is giving $50 million a year for five years to states for abstinence-until-marriage programs,” actress Jane Fonda said on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” Oct. 1.


“Most Americans don’t know their tax money is being used for that” and “most Americans don’t want it,” she said. “Abstinence until marriage is based on an unreal world that isn’t out there.”


Therefore, for 14 months, Durex Consumer Products, which markets Sheik, Ramses, Avanti and Gold Coin condoms, is funding a Truth for Youth campaign, for which Miss Fonda is the spokeswoman. Durex officials would not comment on whether she is being paid for her efforts.


The campaign asserts that the vast majority of Americans want schools to teach abstinence and birth control to their children, and that the new $50 million federal abstinence-education grant program, which began Oct. 1, prohibits teaching about contraception.


Instead, they say, the grant money must be used to teach eight points about sexual abstinence and marriage —points they say are unrealistic, unproven or inaccurate.


People should find out what is being taught in their schools and “make their voices heard ... write their governor and congressmen,” said Miss Fonda, who heads the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention.


“Unfortunately, Ms. Fonda and the Durex company have misrepresented the intent” of the abstinence-education program and “completely missed the point,” countered Sen. Lauch Faircloth, North Carolina Republican, a leading sponsor of the grants.


Programs funded by the grants should include discussions of contraception and sexually transmitted disease (STDs) – “including the very considerable risks, both physical and emotional, associated with sexual activity outside marriage,” Mr. Faircloth said.


“The root of long-term welfare dependency is the destruction of the family fostered by out-of-wedlock childbearing,” he added. “We should attack this problem at its root by encouraging abstinence from all sorts of risky behavior, including nonmarital sex.”


Other abstinence supporters were bemused by the British-owned condom company’s campaign.


“It doesn’t surprise me at all that the producer of the world’s leading brand of condoms would choose Oct. 1 to launch a campaign against abstinence-until-marriage education,” said Kathleen Sullivan, leader of Project Reality, an abstinence program in Golf, Ill.


Durex condom sales are “threatened by ... sexual abstinence until marriage,” she said.


“Clearly, it’s in [Durex’s] corporate interest to oppose abstinence programs ... I think it’s sad that Jane Fonda has aligned herself with corporate greed,” said W. Shepherd Smith Jr., leader of Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy, which has published a directory of the nation’s abstinence-education programs.




Condoms and Sex Don’t Mix for Youth (971217)


NEW YORK — About 15% of sexually active Americans aged 14 to 22 used no protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases the last time they had intercourse, according to results of a national study that questioned over 10,000 young people.


The government’s 1992 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted between April 1992 and March 1993, found that 37% of young women and 52% of young men said the condom was the primary method they used to prevent pregnancy, while 25% of young men said that they used a condom and their partner used the oral contraceptive pill.


“Among respondents who had used oral contraceptives, about one in five young women and one in four young men had also used a condom,” say researchers led by Dr. John Santelli, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.


“That dual use was less common than condom use overall suggests that, for many adolescents, the condom is primarily a means of avoiding pregnancy and that prevention of HIV and other STDs is not a separate goal.”


The researchers note that young black men and women were more likely to use the pill and the condom together than were young people from other ethnic groups.


“African-American communities have been particularly devastated by HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy. As a result, black youths may be making more specific choices in protecting themselves against the dual risks of STD infection and unintended pregnancy,” the researchers state.


Santelli and his colleagues note that dual contraceptive use also was high among younger teens, those with fewer non-sexual risky behaviors (such as not using seat belts), and those who had received HIV-prevention counseling, often at school.


“Our study finds evidence that both school health education about HIV and communication with parents and other adult family members encourage this trend (of dual use),” the researchers state. “It is critical to reach young people in elementary and middle school before they begin engaging in sexual risk behaviors.”




U.S. urged to spend more to prevent teen pregnancy (980428)


WASHINGTON, April 28 — The United States should spend more to prevent teen pregnancy, a youth advocacy group said Tuesday, urging Americans to face the fact that over 12 million U.S. teens are sexually active.


Advocates for Youth released a new study that showed the federal government spends $39.3 billion each year — or $400 per U.S. household — to support families resulting from teen-agers giving birth, while spending only $131 million annually — or $1.32 per household — to prevent teen pregnancies.


The calculation assumes that 55% of recipients of most social services programs first gave birth as a teen-ager, the estimate used by Congress in reviewing federal spending.  “Making teen pregnancy prevention a national priority would mean fewer teens who have to suffer the emotional, social and economic consequences of an unintended pregnancy,” said the group’s president, James Wagoner.


Continued support for teen families was important, he said, but it was also imperative that more funding go toward preventing teen pregnancies from occurring.


The United States has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world — seven times higher than that of the Netherlands, six times higher than that of France, and double that of Canada and Britain, Wagoner said. He said Americans were clearly reluctant to come to grips with sexually active youth.


“As a society it’s easier to stick our heads in the sand than to acknowledge the facts: over 70% of 18-year-olds and 80% of 19-year-olds have had sexual intercourse, and most teen pregnancies by far occur among older teens,” he said.


Denial carried a high price, he said, citing high U.S. rates of teen births and 3 million cases of sexually transmitted disease among teen-agers each year.


Information on abstinence and contraception could help delay the onset of sexual activity and increase the use of contraception by sexually active teens, yet Congress voted in 1996 to earmark $50 million, or 38% of the total prevention investment, for abstinence-only programs.


“Congress continues to allocate precious prevention dollars to programs that withhold information about contraception,” the study’s authors concluded.


“This issue isn’t just about dollars and statistics — it’s about the quality of life of our young people,” Wagoner said.


The group released its study ahead of next month, which has formally been declared National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.




U.S. Reports Encouraging Decline in Teen Birth Rates (980430)


WASHINGTON (AP) — Teen birth rates dropped in every state and across all races in the early 1990s, with births to black teen-agers at the lowest level ever recorded, the government said Thursday.


Black teen birth rates fell by 21% between 1991 and 1996, though they remain nearly double the rate of white teens. Hispanic teens now have the highest birth rates, with more than one in 10 Hispanic teens giving birth each year, according to the analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics.


The statistics were being released as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy marked two years of work calling on parents to become more involved with their teen-agers’ lives.


Nearly half a million American teen-agers give birth ever year, with birth rates declining steadily since 1991. In 1996, nationwide, there was about one birth for every 20 women ages 15 to 19.


But those rates vary widely across the country, from 28.6 per 1,000 women in Vermont to 105.5 per 1,000 women in the District of Columbia for teens ages 15 to 19.


Nationally, between 1991 and 1995, teen birth rates dropped 8.5%. They fell by at least that much in 33 states. Twelve states saw declines of 12% or more, and five states topped 16%.


The national rate dropped more dramatically among younger teens — ages 15 to 17 — than for 18-and 19-year-olds.


Experts attribute the drop to two factors: Steady increases in the number of teens having sex have ebbed, and more teens are using contraception — particularly condoms, hoping to prevent the spread of HIV.


The highest teen birth rate was recorded in 1957, when nearly one in 10 women gave birth. The rate was significantly higher thoughout the 1950s and 1960s, but in those days, the mothers were much more likely to be married. In 1996, just 84% of mothers aged 15 to 17 were married; in 1950, it was 23%.


Teen pregnancy rates are more difficult to determine that teen birth rates, because data on the number of abortions and miscarriages must be added. In 1994, about half of teen pregnancies ended in birth.


Meanwhile, the teen pregnancy prevention campaign released research today showing that teens are less likely to become pregnant or to cause a pregnancy and more likely to use birth control if their parents are involved in their lives.


“Step one is to debunk the myth that by the time kids are teens it doesn’t matter anymore,” said Robert W. Blum of the University of Minnesota, who helped review the research.


The two-year-old campaign supports a variety of anti-pregnancy efforts, including programs that promote abstinence and those that encourage use of birth control. It hopes to cut the teen pregnancy rate by a third by 2005.


It also released new polling indicating that parents and teens are both reluctant to talk about the topic. Parents were more likely to blame parental discomfort and teens were more likely to blame teen discomfort.


About one in four parents but just 17% of teens said the biggest barrier to talking about sex was that parents are not comfortable. Nearly 40% of teens, but just 30% of parents, said teen discomfort was the problem.


At the same time, though, the largest survey of adolescent health found that most teens say they get along well with their mothers and most mothers say they’ve talked to their teen-agers about sex.


Blum acknowledged that closeness to parents cannot be the only answer to stopping teen pregnancy if most teens say feel closeness. “Parental closeness isn’t a magic bullet,” he said.


The campaign was also releasing a guide for parents with teen-agers. Tips include talking “early and often” about sex, including questions about relationships and pressure to have sex; discouraging early, frequent and steady dating; and becoming closer to teens by listening to them, supporting their interests and building their self-esteem.




Report: Contraceptive use spreading in Africa (980504)


WASHINGTON (AP) —African women no longer want so many children, and the use of contraceptives is spreading across the continent, according to a new study.


The upbeat assessment of countries aggressively tackling population problems is tempered by still-sobering statistics, however: a hugely disproportionate share of the world’s pregnancy-related deaths, 90% of the world’s AIDS deaths, and increasing numbers of children who are not in school.


“Africa is a latecomer to the revolution in reproductive behavior sweeping across the developing world, but is now poised for positive change with respect to childbearing patterns,” said Shanti R. Conly, who co-authored the study for Population Action International, which promotes family planing around the world.


Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe are leading the way toward change in a region where people are 22% poorer than they were in 1975 and where population has doubled in 25 years and is expected to double again in another 30.


In Kenya, couples now say they want an average of four children, down from seven in the 1980s. In other sub-Saharan countries, desired family size is also down.


“A growing number of women in Africa don’t want any more children,” Conly said.


Bucking the trend, however, is Niger, where the average woman still wants eight children and her husband, who may have other wives, wants 12.


The report credits African governments with increasingly taking steps to address reproductive health and population challenges. In 1986, only Ghana and Kenya had officials policies aimed at slowing population growth. Today, 25 African countries have such policies, Conly said.


Urbanization, rising costs and the improved chances of survival for children are all affecting women’s —and men’s —traditional preference for large families, the study concludes.


Although use of contraceptives is still low at 18% across the sub-Saharan region, it has increased dramatically in some countries —to nearly 50% in Zimbabwe and over 30% in Botswana and Kenya.


At the same time, an estimated 22 million married women say they don’t want another pregnancy but still don’t use contraceptives, according to surveys cited in the report.


It says this unmet need for family planning in Africa is higher than in any region of the world. Of the 12 neediest countries in terms of women lacking family planning help, 11 are in Africa, the study says.


While Africa accounts for 10% of the world’s population, 40% of the reported pregnancy-related deaths occur on the continent, the report said.


“During her lifetime, an African woman has a one in 15 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth —odds over 200 times greater than those faced by women in the United States,” the report says.


The AIDS epidemic, meanwhile, has killed 4 million Africans.


The report, whose other co-author was James E. Rosen, shows declining percentages of enrollment in elementary schools and says that without drastic action, it will become impossible for many countries ever to achieve universal primary education.




Sex Ed Teachers in Md. County Can’t Urge Students to Wait Until Marriage (Foxnews, 011115)


FREDERICK, Md.  — Sex education teachers in Frederick County cannot tell students to save it for marriage under a newly approved curriculum change.


The school board voted 6-1 Wednesday to delete a marriage reference from the program’s discussion of sexual abstinence and add language advising that abstinence “is a healthy, safe and responsible decision for adolescents.”


The new language, which conforms with state health education guidelines, was crafted as a compromise after three of the seven board members initially objected to retiring the passage identifying abstinence as “appropriate behavior before marriage.”


In the end, only Linda Naylor dissented. She said teachers should encourage students “to wait for a special person” instead of having sex before marriage.


Board President Ronald Peppe voted reluctantly for the change. “I think it sends a message that we don’t believe as strongly in the institution of marriage,” Peppe said.


The recommendation came from W. Lynn Carr, a staff curriculum specialist, who said health teachers in the county were already following state guidelines and no longer urging students to wait until marriage.


Frederick County’s sex education courses, taught in seventh, eighth and ninth grades, stress abstinence as the best way of avoiding disease and preventing pregnancy.


Some board members favored more specific language advising students to delay sex until they are “involved in a mature, monogamous and committed relationship.”


Steve Crawford said it was unrealistic to tell students to abstain until marriage. He also argued that linking sex to marriage was a religious belief that should not be taught in public schools.


On a related matter, Peppe said the district’s Family Life Advisory Committee should be allowed to recommend policy changes. The volunteer group, which reviews the sex education curriculum, recently proposed having all students consider signing sexual abstinence pledge cards. The administration opposed the plan and the board took no action, prompting some to question the committee’s role.




Births to High-School Girls Fall to Record Low (991026)


WASHINGTON — Births to teen-agers fell for a seventh straight time last year, with the rate of births to those of high school age hitting a 40-year low.


Overall, births to teens ages 15 to 19 dropped by 2% from 1997, and were down 18% since 1991, according to a report Monday by the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services.


Births to those in the 15-to-17 age group fell 5% last year— to 30.4 births for every 1,000 teens. That rate has dropped 21% since 1991 — when it was 38.7 births — and is the lowest rate in at least four decades.


Analysts point to a number of reasons for the drop. Surveys show fewer teens are having sex and they’re using more reliable forms of birth control, including long-lasting implants and injections. Fear of AIDS has also increased use of condoms.


The birth rate among the youngest teens and preteens, ages 10 to 14, also fell 6%, to its lowest level since 1969. Still, there were 9,481 babies born to these very young moms last year.


To calculate the teen pregnancy rate, the birthrate numbers must be combined with data on abortions and estimates of miscarriages, and the report gave final calculations for 1996: There were 98.7 pregnancies for every 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19, the lowest rate since 1976, when these statistics were first reliably collected.


The new report also included state-by-state birth rates for 1997, and rates ranged significantly across the country. In Vermont, just 2.7% of teen girls gave birth; in Mississippi, the rate was almost three times as high, with nearly 7.4% of teens having babies.


In 1998 overall, there were 51.1 live births for every 1,000 women, ages 15 to 19, meaning 5.1% of them had babies last year.


The report also found:


— The sharpest drops in birth rates have been to black teens, with their numbers falling 26% since 1991, and to the lowest point since 1960, when data on black women first became available.


— The rate for Hispanic women has fallen steadily since 1994, dropping by 13% in four years.


— Between 1991 and 1997, teen-age birth rates fell in every state, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The drops were statistically significant in every area except Rhode Island and Guam. And the declines exceeded 20% in 10 states and the District of Columbia.




“No Magic Pill”: Holly Patterson, R.I.P (National Review, 030926)


“There’s no quick fix for pregnancy, no magic pill,” Holly Patterson’s sobbing father told reporters on September 19, two days after she died from a massive bacterial infection apparently brought on by a failed RU-486 abortion.


Two weeks earlier, Holly, who had just turned 18, “seemed happy and healthy.” But that was before she entered the Planned Parenthood clinic in Hayward, California, about seven weeks along into her pregnancy.


It’s unclear whether Holly was given a dose of Mifeprex (the knock-off brand of RU-486 made in China and distributed in the U.S.) or simply a prescription for the drug during her September 10 visit to Planned Parenthood. We do know that when taken alone, RU-486 causes a complete abortion only about 60 percent of the time, leaving a patient vulnerable to serious infection and hemorrhaging. For this reason, a second drug (Cytotec in the U.S.) must be taken about 48 hours after RU-486 to cause uterine contractions, which help expel the embryo. Holly took one of these drugs — most likely Cytotec — at home on Saturday, September 13.


Under the protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Cytotec is supposed to be given orally and under medical supervision. But some Planned Parenthood clinics and abortionists, who apparently can’t be bothered with multiple visits and monitoring women onsite, tell patients like Holly to administer the drug vaginally, at home, with no medical supervision.


This laissez-faire approach markedly differs from protocols mandated in other countries where RU-486 is legal, such as France, China, Sweden, and the U.K. These countries require patients to be monitored by medical staff for four hours or longer after taking Cytotec (or a similar drug) to ensure that no cardiac complications or severe allergic reactions occur, and to determine if the embryo has been expelled.


By Sunday, Holly was “bleeding severely, in acute pain and unable to walk.” Unfortunately, these symptoms may not alert emergency-room staff to potentially life-threatening complications because heavy bleeding and painful cramping are exactly what’s expected in an RU-486 abortion. So it’s not surprising that when Holly’s boyfriend took her late Sunday to Valley Care Medical Center (VCMC), she was sent home with painkillers.


In the early hours of Wednesday, September 17, Holly returned to VCMC. That afternoon she died from septic shock, the result of a massive systemic infection. The attending physician told her father that the infection developed because she “hadn’t aborted all of the fetus, and she had fragments left in her.”


Predictably, Planned Parenthood concedes nothing beyond the established fact that a patient “who recently sought health-care services” at a Planned Parenthood “health-care center” died “at a hospital in Pleasanton.” A mere coincidence, really, and anyway she died at a hospital, not one of their “health-care centers.”


And Danco Laboratories, the U.S. distributor of mifepristone (RU-486) under the brand name Mifeprex, can be expected to deny any link between the drugs and Holly’s death. Following a similar death in September 2001, Danco insisted that RU-486 did not cause the septic shock which killed a woman taking part in Canadian drug trials. And that’s technically true, of course. The infections are caused by dead human embryos or parts thereof which are not fully expelled. So the fault lies with the embryos, not the drug that successfully killed them but proved less than successful in evacuating them.


Although Danco has sent the FDA about 400 reports of “adverse events” related to RU-486 — ranging from excessive bleeding to bacterial infections and death — Danco maintains the drugs are “safe.” It seems that safety is a subjective and flexible concept. “Mifepristone Questions and Answers,” an FDA fact sheet, cautions: “Patients should also understand that safe does not mean risk free.”


A major World Health Organization (WHO) study documented the infection risk associated with RU-486 abortions: 30 percent of women who had incomplete RU-486 abortions developed pelvic/genital-tract infections. The reason for this high infection rate: One side effect of the RU-486 drug combination is immune-system suppression. For this reason, the WHO study calls for women to receive antibiotics for six weeks following an RU-486 abortion.


In April 2002, Danco sent an FDA-approved “dear doctor” letter warning of safety issues associated with prescribing RU-486, i.e., undetected ectopic pregnancies and bacterial infections which had resulted in patient deaths, and informing them of a 21-year-old woman who died of a heart attack three days after taking RU-486. But you won’t find that in the promotional materials.


The current FDA protocol requires that patients return two weeks after taking RU-486 so the physician can verify a complete termination and the absence of complications. But Holly Patterson and the Canadian patient who died from septic shock didn’t live long enough for the follow-up appointment.


The WHO study, the dozen adverse-event reports of failed/incomplete abortions, and two fatalities from septic shock should make it clear that the RU-486/Cytotec drug regimen is not safe in the hands of teenagers. Nor is it safe in the hands of abortion-facility staff who leave it up to frightened girls to determine if a life-threatening complication is developing.


And because the mode of action and side effects of RU-486/Cytotec mask the very symptoms that would alert medical personnel to life-threatening complications like ectopic pregnancy, incomplete abortion, and uncontrolled bleeding (which nearly cost an Iowa woman her life during U.S. drug trials), RU-486 abortions are unsafe even if the current FDA protocols were followed.


These risks inherent in RU-486 abortions simply do not outweigh the sole purported benefit of avoiding a surgical abortion. Last year those risks were detailed and documented in a “citizen petition” to the FDA filed by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical Association, and Concerned Women for America. Had the FDA acted on the petition, Holly might still be alive.


Although she was living at home, Holly’s father did not learn of her pregnancy and abortion until a few hours before she died. He wants to tell teenage girls who become pregnant that “no matter what, no matter how bad things are, talk with family and friends. We will support you. Family has the strength to pull you through anything....”


Anything, perhaps, other than a “safe and effective” RU-486 abortion.




Company Targets Teens With Hip-Hop Condoms (Foxnews, 040108)


NEW YORK — A campaign to market a new line of condoms to teens has some people wondering if it’s conveying a message that condom use — and, in essence, sex — is cool for kids.


Jimmie Hatz condoms — “jimmie hat” is a hip-hop slang word for condom — are slated to hit some store shelves Feb. 1 and are aimed at urban teens across the country. The company that produces the condoms says it’s promoting safe sex, but critics decry the idea of marketing contraceptives directly to teens in a way that seems “hip.”


“Basically, what we’ve tried to do here is make it the cool thing to do, the ‘in’ thing to do, to protect yourself,” said Harry Terrell, CEO of Common Ground USA, which produces the condoms.


The marketing campaign targets what Common Ground calls the “hip-hop kulture,” particularly in minority communities that are hardest hit with HIV and AIDS. That culture is defined as any group of people — regardless of race — that enjoys emceeing, deejaying, breakdancing “or just loves music,” Terrell said.


“When you look at the numbers and the rate of infection continues to rise within the minority population, they’re having sex,” Terrell said. “We say abstinence is the only way that you’re going to be OK. But the fact of the matter is, we can’t hide and think that they’re going to stop having sex.”


To appeal to youth, the condoms are named “Great Dane” and “Rottweiler” and come in shiny wrappers adorned with a cartoon dog wearing a thick gold chain.


But critics say using such “hip” methods to sell contraceptives to teens sends the wrong message.


“I think they’re basically doing what all media tries to do, which is sell something, and teenagers are one of the biggest consumers” said Libby Gray, director of Project Reality, an abstinence-before-marriage advocacy group.


Gray said in spite of the company’s intention to promote safe sex, the marketing campaign doesn’t encourage teens to follow the safest lifestyle.


“I think that will make sex look very cool … especially if a rap or hip-hop person … is giving an endorsement for that behavior.”


The Centers for Disease Control states on its Web site that “the surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse.” When used properly and consistently, condoms are 95% effective for pregnancy prevention but does not protect against all STDs. Consistent condom use gives almost 100% protection against HIV.


But more can be done, experts said, such as promoting no sex at all.


“What we need are more positive role models for kids who are promoting healthy behavior — abstinence — as the best possible way of prevention,” Gray said.


However, others say it would be irresponsible to turn a blind eye to sexual activity among teenagers. According to a CDC report, in 2001, 46% of teens in the United States had had sex.


“For sexually active kids, making safer sex and sexual health look like a positive thing, that’s all to the good,” said Michael McGee, vice president of education and social marketing for Planned Parenthood.


“Whether we like it or not, [nearly] half of America’s high school students have had intercourse and in the face of that… I’m glad that the folks from Common Ground are being creative in making the concept of personal responsibility cool.”


Regardless of “hip” marketing for contraceptives, recent statistics show that teens who are having sex are doing it more safely.


A July 2000 study released by the Centers for Disease Control, for example, shows that the national pregnancy rate for adolescents aged 15 to 19 decreased from 1995 to 1997 by 7.9%. Adolescent pregnancy rates were higher for blacks than for whites. It was also found that the percentage of sexually active teens using condoms and long-acting hormonal contraceptive methods increased.


McGee is hopeful that appealing to youth to have safe sex will also reduce the infection rate of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.


“The youth culture that’s into hip-hop come in all different colors, but I do think it’s a very wise approach in that we know urban kids are disproportionately affected by HIV,” McGee said of the Jimmie Hatz marketing. “I think taking a particular audience segment and identifying the messages that appeals to them and that resonates with them is a smart thing to do.”




FDA Blasted for Abortion Pill Deaths (Foxnews, 041116)


WASHINGTON  — The father of a teen who died after taking an abortion pill says new safety warnings added by the government aren’t enough to protect women. Because a third death now has been linked to RU-486, the Food and Drug Administration should bar sales of the abortion pill, said the grieving father.


“How many more deaths is it going to take before the FDA takes action to remove this drug from the market?” said Monty Patterson, 51, of Livermore, Calif.


His 18-year-old daughter, Holly, died on Sept. 17, 2003, of septic shock caused by inflammation of the uterus. The teen took RU-486 on Sept. 10 to terminate an unplanned pregnancy, Patterson said.


At least two other American women who took the pill in the United States died, although the FDA says it is unclear if their deaths were directly related to the pill’s use.


Those three deaths were among 676 adverse events reported through Nov. 5 by women who used the abortion pill. The reports include women who felt sick and dizzy to more serious illnesses that required hospitalization, according to the FDA.


Seventeen women who used RU-486 had tubal pregnancies; the drug is not to be used in women with suspected or confirmed ectopic pregnancies. Another 72 women bled so heavily after using the abortion pill that they required blood transfusions. And seven women suffered serious bacterial infections, including sepsis.


After his daughter’s death, Patterson began lobbying for changes to the drug’s label to avoid another tragedy. He received a courtesy call Monday from the FDA alerting him to new warnings linking RU-486 to the risk of life-threatening bacterial infections. He didn’t learn about the third death until reviewing the agency’s Web site.


Anti-abortion activists seized upon Holly Patterson’s death in their campaign against Danco Laboratories’ product, Mifeprex.


A company spokeswoman disputed their claims.


“The drug is safe. It’s effective. And it provides another option for women to end early pregnancy,” said Cynthia Summers, marketing director at New York-based Danco Laboratories.


An abortion rights activist said the abortion pill is “extremely safe and effective” when used correctly.


“All of us need to understand that no procedure, no medication is risk free,” said Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


The FDA approved Mifeprex in 2000 to terminate pregnancy up to 49 days after the beginning of the last menstrual cycle. The drug blocks progesterone, a hormone required to sustain a pregnancy. When followed by another medicine, misoprostol, Mifeprex terminates the pregnancy.


Mifeprex already carries a “black box” warning, the agency’s most strident alert, to highlight other safety concerns. The FDA said Monday that the drug’s black box warning will expand, adding information about such rare but potentially life-threatening complications as serious bacterial infections and bleeding that can follow any abortion, including one induced by Mifeprex.


Since the drug was approved, the agency has received reports of serious bacterial infection, bleeding, ectopic — tubal — pregnancies that have ruptured and death. The fatalities including a death from sepsis, a severe infection, recently reported to FDA and leading to the revised black box.


Serious bacterial infection may happen silently, without typical signs of infection like fever or tenderness, the label warns. The revised label also cautions health care providers that prolonged, heavy bleeding may warrant surgical intervention.


Women who have taken the drug should contact a doctor immediately if they suffer fever, abdominal pain and heavy bleeding, a medication guide aimed at consumers says. And the FDA counsels women to take their medication guide to any health care provider they visit to speed treatment.


In addition, women who take the pill must sign a patient agreement pledging to contact a doctor immediately if they have fever higher than 100.4 degrees that lasts more than four hours or severe abdominal pain. The women are also warned that heavy bleeding that soaks two, thick full-sized sanitary pads per hour for two consecutive hours is cause for contacting a doctor.


According to Danco Laboratories, 360,000 American women have used the pill since it was approved by the FDA. In a letter sent to health care professionals on Nov. 12, the company stood by the safety and efficacy of the drug.


Concerned Women for America blasted the FDA for not pulling RU-486 from the market.


“It is reported that another woman has died after taking the abortion drug RU-486, and the FDA’s response is to change the drug’s label,” said Wendy Wright, the group’s senior policy director, in a statement. “This is a dangerous drug that deserves to be pulled off the market immediately.”




RU-486 Gets Bad Rap (Foxnews, 041130)


Lawmakers Seek to Halt Use of RU-486


WASHINGTON — Adverse reactions linked to the abortion pill, RU-486, including the deaths of three women, have led the Food and Drug Administration to change the labeling on the drug to warn patients of the possibility of complications including bacterial infections, serious bleeding and death.


But some lawmakers who oppose abortion say that’s not going far enough. They want the FDA to take the drug off the market.


Marketed as mifepristone, RU-486 triggers an abortion in 48 hours from ingestion. It has been prescribed to hundreds of thousands of women since hitting the U.S. market in 2000.


Holly Patterson died at age 18, 19 days after taking the pill. Her father wants the drug recalled and new clinical trials.


“I want to know how many women will have to die before the FDA takes action. I don’t feel that there is an acceptable risk for women to die before, you know, we need to really further evaluate how safe this drug is,” Monty Patterson told FOX News.


Patterson met with top FDA doctors last month. Shortly afterward, warning labels were put on the drug. Patterson said if the drug remains on the market, he wants the FDA to require doctors to document any serious side effects.


Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback accused the FDA of rushing the approval process for the drug. He has introduced legislation to pull the drug and review its safety.


“It went through this expedited process that’s meant only for drugs that are lifesaving drugs,” he said.


Pro-choice advocates say RU-486 is a safe, effective alternative to a surgical abortion. Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president of NARAL-Pro Choice America, said complications resulting in death have been few and not conclusively linked to the drug.


“I think that the characterization of it being deadly and dangerous is really anti-choice propaganda,” she said.


Cavendish added that all drugs carry certain risks and RU-486 was not rushed through clinical trials.




Health Plans: An Ethical Prescription (Foxnews, 041108)


Lost amid the din of election coverage were reports on two events with long-term implications for American health care. One illustrates an emerging problem, the other signals a potential solution.


The problem concerns freedom of conscience — or the lack thereof. On Oct. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a California state court ruling that compels the state’s Catholic Charities to include coverage for contraception in its employee health-insurance plan.


Almost simultaneously, the federal government announced that next year an important new health-care option will be available to federal workers through the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program. Included among the 11 national and 200 local plans they can choose from is one sponsored by the Order of St. Francis that excludes coverage for medical services deemed incompatible with Catholic teaching on such issues as abortion, sterilization, contraception and artificial insemination.


Essentially, the court rulings advance the principle that employers cannot be “conscientious objectors” to health-plan regulations that violate an employer’s religious or ethical beliefs. By contrast, the government’s decision advances the principle that workers should be able to choose health coverage that conforms to their beliefs.


While both decisions will have limited short-term effects, both are freighted with long-term consequences. The court rulings affect only one employer in one state, but more such cases can be expected. Similarly, the OSF plan will be available next year only to federal workers and retirees in the plan’s service area of Northwest Illinois, but in coming years, other “ethical” health plans could be offered elsewhere.


Furthermore, while both instances involve Catholic ethics and reproductive medicine, similar, future cases involving individuals with different principles and other medical practices are likely. For example, one can easily envision disputes arising over the ethics of treatments for the terminally ill or the uses of new genetic-engineering technologies.


As medical science advances, ethical considerations multiply and the likelihood of any uniform consensus on ethical norms diminishes. Was it ethical when Medicare denied reimbursement for hospice care to patients who live longer than six months? Under what circumstances is it acceptable to refuse a patient an organ transplant? Is “family counseling” a “non-medical” service, or is it a benefit consistent with good mental health and a “pro-family” ethic? What success rate must an “experimental” treatment achieve to become “medically appropriate” and covered by insurance?


Questions like these have spurred some in Congress to push for a “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” But it’s highly unlikely Congress could legislate an acceptable solution.


The government has embarked on the better solution — consumer choice in a competitive market — and FEHBP is the perfect place to start. For more than 40 years, FEHBP has let federal workers select the coverage that best meets their own needs and preferences. Competing FEHBP plans already offer different coverage types (indemnity, HMO, PPO, etc.), with different benefit levels and premiums. Allowing choice based on different ethical guidelines also makes sense.


A precedent already exists. Today, investors can choose among hundreds of “ethical” mutual funds. For example, funds targeting Catholics or conservative Protestants won’t invest in companies involved with abortion, but pro-life agnostics are also free to buy shares. Pacifists can buy funds that won’t invest in arms manufacturers. Indeed, funds with opposing ethical views on a particular issue (such as domestic partner benefits for employees) will include or exclude a company for the same reason.


Meanwhile, there are also plenty of funds that ignore these issues entirely and make investment decisions solely on financial considerations.


Ethical health plans can offer a similar solution to disagreements over medical ethics. For the vast majority of health services, such plans likely would differ little from their competitors. But on the contentious issues, they can offer customers the assurance that their practices are consistent with a customer’s beliefs.


As for employers, if Congress changed the tax-treatment of health insurance to recognize that employee health benefits are really part of workers’ wages, then the employer’s ethical dilemmas disappear. After all, how workers spend their cash wages isn’t an ethical problem for employers.


Also, by giving any health-care tax relief directly to workers, government could similarly avoid contention. As with tax deductions for charitable giving, government could broadly encourage a social good (buying health insurance), while allowing individuals to chose the recipients based on their own beliefs.


Let’s not allow the problem of “conscientious objector” cases to fester. The solutions — consumer choice in health care and ethical health plans — are close at hand.




A Conflict of Conscience—The Culture War Hits the Pharmacy (Christian Post, 050421)


Should pharmacists be required to dispense so-called “emergency contraceptives” even if it violates their deepest convictions? That is no longer a hypothetical question, as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently issued an executive rule requiring all pharmacies in his state to fill a woman’s prescription for the “morning-after pill.” The governor’s “emergency order” comes with the force of law, and means that pharmacists who refuse to fill these prescriptions can face sanctions and could lose their jobs and professional status.


The battle over pharmacists’ consciences has been building for some time, as abortion rights activists have been focusing their attention on pharmacists and pharmacies that refuse to fill prescriptions for “Plan B,” the most commonly prescribed medication intended to prevent a fertilized egg from being successfully implanted in a woman’s uterus. Taken up to five days after sexual intercourse, the pill effectively causes an early-term abortion, leading to the destruction of a fertilized egg.


Governor Blagojevich issued his emergency regulation after Planned Parenthood activists held a protest in Chicago, charging that pharmacists were violating the rights of women by refusing to dispense the medication. The governor, who was elected with the support of abortion-rights activists, responded with his order that requires pharmacies to fill these prescriptions without question. In the governor’s words: “No delays, no hassles, no lectures.”


Illinois, like most states, offers protections for health-care providers which allow a “right of conscience” for physicians and other medical professionals to refuse to perform abortions or similar procedures. The governor simply decided that pharmacists are not included in the health-care providers covered by the law.


Some pharmacists are refusing to obey the order. Jim Perry of Rock Island, for example, told the Decatur newspaper, The Dispatch, that he would defy the order. “Ordering me to do this would be like ordering all doctors to perform abortions,” he explained. “You just can’t expect pharmacists to do this.”


The governor’s emergency order applies to those pharmacies that sell any form of oral contraception. Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, warned that a pharmacy’s license could be revoked if it refuses to dispense the “morning-after pill” or similar medications.


Karen Brauer, President of Pharmacists for Life, a pro-life alliance of pharmacists, pointed to the growing national controversy. “I’m getting calls from pharmacists all over the country who say, ‘I didn’t get into this profession to kill babies,’” she said. Brauer charged that the governor’s action is illegal because the state’s health-care conscience law already covers pharmacists. The Illinois Pharmacist Association supports Brauer’s interpretation. “The problem is the governor can’t read,” Brauer chided. “And he is going to get sued over this. And he’s going to be embarrassed, all because he can’t read.”


The language employed in this controversy betrays the dirty little secret that obscures the real medical function of so-called “emergency contraceptives.” For most people, the meaning of the word “conception” is clear—it refers to that moment when the egg is successfully fertilized by the sperm. Not so with many medical professionals. In an intentional and very effective verbal shift, pro-abortionists have successfully redefined “conception” in many medical contexts to refer to the entire process whereby the fertilized egg is successfully implanted in the woman’s womb.


Thus, when abortion advocates talk about “emergency contraceptives,” they do not mean that the pills prevent the union of sperm and egg. What they mean is that the extremely high dosages of oral contraceptives found in “Plan B” or the “morning-after pill” prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, a process which amounts to a chemical abortion.


For that reason, pharmacists with pro-life convictions—the very people who understand exactly how this pill works—cannot fill these prescriptions without a violation of conscience.


That’s no problem for those pushing the pro-abortion agenda. An April 3, 2005 editorial in The New York Times referred to a right of conscience for pharmacists as “an intolerable abuse of power by pharmacists who have no business forcing their own moral or ethical views onto customers who may not share them.” In the paper’s blunt assessment: “Any pharmacist who cannot dispense medicines lawfully prescribed by a doctor should find another line of work.”


The arrogance of that statement is almost breathtaking. A newspaper that would fight to the death for the freedom of the press is apparently eager to deny similar freedoms to an entire class of medical professionals. In its radical worldview, a woman’s right to exercise her own “reproductive freedom” trumps all other rights and liberties.


That was too much for Dr. Leonard L. Edloe, President and Chief Executive Officer of Edloe’s Professional Pharmacies and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. In a letter to the editor published in the April 8, 2005 edition of the Times, Edloe responded with eloquent outrage.


“As a practicing pharmacist for 35 years, I was shocked by your stance that any pharmacist who cannot dispense lawfully prescribed medicines ‘should find another line of work’.” As Dr. Edloe insisted, “I am a professional, and I also have a conscience.”


Clearly, Dr. Edloe takes his professional responsibilities seriously. “When it is my professional opinion that a patient does not need a drug or that the drug might harm the patient, it is my duty to inform the patient of the dangers—and in some instances to refuse to fill the prescription.” But Dr. Edloe also understands a deeper accountability. “I also know that one day I must answer to my creator. I have chosen to practice a profession that improves the quality of life, and I believe that any action I take that causes death will have implications when I am judged for the things I have done on this earth.” Dr. Edloe appeared as a guest on my radio program on April 12, and he protested the fact that so many persons—including those among the media elite—appear so ready to force him to violate his conscience by demanding “emergency contraceptives” after engaging in promiscuous sexual behavior.


The New York Times is not alone in its willingness to sacrifice the rights of pharmacists in its eagerness to defend what it construes as a woman’s unqualified “right” to the morning-after pill. Ellen Goodman, the predictably liberal columnist for The Boston Globe, straightforwardly rejects a right of conscience for pharmacists as she pushes the same old abortion rights rhetoric. She complains about “the incredibly expanding conscience clause” that is now extended to medical professionals in many states. She draws a clear line with regard to pharmacists, arguing that they should have no right of conscience that would allow them to refuse any prescription. “The pharmacist who refuses emergency contraception is not just following his moral code,” she asserts, “he’s trumping the moral beliefs of the doctor and the patient.” So far as Ellen Goodman is concerned, the woman’s conscience is all that matters. “Pharmacists don’t have the same claim to refuse filling the prescription as a doctor has to refuse performing an abortion,” Goodman insisted. She went on to argue that “there are other ways to exercise a private conscience clause.” What would that be? “You can quit,” she suggests. “It happens every day.”


Note carefully that Goodman offered no argument to sustain her claim that pharmacists should have fewer rights than physicians. Her “you can quit” argument is a consummate illustration of the almost infinite condescension that marks the moral attitude of the liberal elite. “The last time I looked,” she concluded, “the pharmacist’s license did not include the license to dispense morality.” Of course, Ellen Goodman is ever ready to dispense her own form of morality, even as she would deny pharmacists’ right to act according to their own consciences.


This is already a big issue, but it is sure to grow larger in the very near future. Steven H. Aden of the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom told The Washington Post, “More and more pharmacists are becoming aware of their right to conscientiously refuse to pass objectionable medications across the counter. We are on the very front edge of a wave that’s going to break not too far down the line.” Each of us has a stake in just how that wave breaks. If pharmacists can be denied a right of conscience, what about other citizens? How long will it be before hospitals will be required to offer abortions, even if this violates moral convictions of sponsoring bodies, including churches? If a right of conscience can be denied to pharmacists, how long will it be before physicians lose the same protection?


The Culture of Death advances by transforming definitions and pushing for the supremacy of a woman’s “right to choose” over the rights of all others. Watch closely. It’s the pharmacists whose rights are on the line today. Who’s next?




R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.




Holly’s Law [danger of RU-486] (Free Congress Foundation, 050316)


Are drugs supposed to be marketed to help people? Or is it acceptable when the drug is not medically correct as long as it is politically correct even if use of the drug results in needless deaths?


Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) asked that question last week when he reintroduced Holly’s Law. This bill would take RU-486 off the market until the Comptroller General of the United States can review the process by which the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug.


The biggest supporters of RU-486, the abortifacient, also known as “mifepristone,” have been organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood on its webpage “fact sheet”, “Mifepristone: Expanding Women’s Options for Early Abortion,” credits RU-486 as having “demonstrated effectiveness, safety, and acceptability.” The NARAL Pro-Choice America webpage on RU-486/Mifepristone says the abortifacient “offers women an early, safe, and effective medical alternative to surgical abortion.” NARAL Pro-Choice America contends that countries such as Britain and Sweden have found it to be a safe alternative to surgical abortion.


It’s time NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood update their websites to reflect reality, not wishful thinking. Journalists, Michael Day and Susan Bisset, The London Telegraph on January 18, 2004 in an article, “Revealed: Two British Women Die After Taking Controversial New Abortion Pill,” wrote that the Government acknowledged two British women had died after having used RU-486. (In this case the drug was identified as mifegyne, which is a European brand name.) The Public Health Minister downplayed any direct linking of the drug with the deaths. Jack Scarisbrick, National Chairman of Life, a British pro-life group, was unwilling to sugarcoat what had occurred. “There’s a good chance that if these two women had not taken RU-486, they would not have died, and given how unreliable the reporting system is, if two deaths have been reported then there are probably twenty others that went unreported.” reported on March 16, 2004 that a Swedish girl, Rebecca Tell Berg, 16, had died on June 3, 2003 after having been convinced by the staff of a hospital to use the RU-486 pill rather than undergo a suction abortion. The death was attributed by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare in Gothenburg to the RU-486 treatment. Canada suspended its own trial of RU-486 in 2001 after a woman died.


Unfortunately these recent deaths should come as no surprise. The Life Issues Institute has compiled news story after news story from the 1990s which indicated that taking RU-486 to end a pregnancy was indeed physically and psychologically painful.


New York Times reporter Nina Darnton, in her March 23, 1994 article, “Surprising Journey for Abortion Drug,” described the travails of a 17-year-old American girl whose abortion was induced by use of RU-486. Aimee (only her first name was cited in the article) had traveled to Britain to undergo the abortion after a ruling had been issued in the previous month to allow foreigners to receive RU-486 abortions.


“I felt like I was dying,” Darnton recorded Aimee as having said. “It hurt so much. I had contractions coming so fast, and I was sick to my stomach and dry heaving. I couldn’t stop trembling and I felt so hot.”


Darnton wrote: “The pill has not turned out to be the easy solution to unwanted pregnancy that many women had hoped for. The method is more expensive than a surgical abortion and requires a longer hospital or clinic stay, more staff members to administer and more follow-up visits to assure success.”


New York Times reporter Tamar Lewin wrote in a January 30, 1995 article, “Clinical Trials Giving Glimpses of Abortion Pill,” that Dr. Judith Tyson, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, who was obviously supportive of the drug, had admitted that “while some women have very little pain, most do have a lot of cramping, similar to a miscarriage. And some have heavy bleeding, which can go on for days.”


Proponents of legalized abortion mounted a heavy lobbying campaign pressing the FDA to approve RU-486. “The women of America cannot afford to wait any longer,” insisted Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, at a conference her organization sponsored nearly six months before the FDA approved the drug’s use. “Mifepristone must be approved by the FDA,” asserted Smeal. The Feminist Daily News Wire reported that Smeal’s organization and other ‘medical experts’ were calling upon the FDA to “immediately approve mifepristone which it had deemed safe and effective as a method of early abortion in 1996.”


David Brody, congressional correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, reported recently that eight of the eleven members of the committee picked by the FDA in 1996 to review RU-486 had either been affiliated with pro-abortion organizations or made statements in favor of abortion. Brody reported that committee chairman Ezra Davidson had asserted in a 1993 Los Angeles Times article that Planned Parenthood needed a more aggressive presence in less affluent neighborhoods because the need was so great for its services. Davidson also served on Planned Parenthood’s 2002 Advisory Board.


Brody reported that Philip Corfman had been a Planned Parenthood volunteer before joining the 1996 committee.


Another committee member, Deborah Narrigan, served on the Board of the National Women’s Health Network, which is supportive of legalized abortion. NWHN welcomed FDA’s approval of the drug with a release headlined: “Early Abortion Drug: science last!”


FDA Commissioner Jane Henney, who was appointed by President Clinton to succeed David Kessler, issued the approval of RU-486 in late September 2000. The decision was notable for its breaking of precedent. The names of the experts who had reviewed the results of trials were not published. Nor was the name or the location of the manufacturer.


Concerned Women for America, the Christian Medical Association and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Surgeons filed a petition with the FDA on August 20, 2002 alleging that the approval process had cut corners and asking that the approval be revoked. Among the objections to the continued sale of RU-486 detailed in the petition were:


1. RU-486 had been approved without having obtained data from “adequate and well-controlled clinical trials.”


2. The approval route called “Subpart H” was designed and had been used in the past solely for drugs aimed at treating serious illnesses.


3. A failure adequately to test the drugs on adolescents even though it is often used in their treatments.


The petition’s executive summary charged: “The nation’s food and drug laws embody a commitment to fostering advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness and to ensuring that drugs are safe and effective for their intended use prior to their release to the medical community and the public. From the outset, the process used by the FDA to bring RU-486 to the U.S. market was fraught with violations of the FDA’s established norms for ensuring drug safety and effectiveness.”


It also stated that high-level officials from President Clinton to the FDA Commissioners to Secretary of Health & Human Services Donna Shalala went to bat to make RU-486 widely available in our country.


The petition notes that the Subpart H approval process had previously been applied to drugs dealing with AIDS, cancer and leprosy. FDA had originally wanted to apply the Subpart H restriction to place some safety limitations on how RU-486 was used because the Population Council, which holds the U.S. patent, had refused to place voluntary restrictions on the drug’s distribution. However, once FDA’s plan was revealed in the press the petition says the pro-abortion lobby pressured the agency so much that it folded, approving RU-486 with “empty restrictions” that were being ignored “with impunity by abortion providers across the country.”


Then came the death of Holly Patterson, a teenager who died on September 17, 2003. Her parents, Monty and Helen Patterson, wrote that she had failed to tell them about her pregnancy. They recalled:


“Under this conspiracy of silence, Holly suffered and depended on the safety of the FDA approved pill administered by Planned Parenthood and emergency room treatment by Valley Care Medical Center where she received pain killers for severe cramping and was sent home. On Saturday and Sunday, Holly cried and complained of severe cramping and constipation and even allowed us to comfort her but could not tell us what she was really going through. On September 17, 2003, she succumbed to septic shock and died while many members of our family waited anxiously, yet expectantly in the Critical Care Unit for her to recover until we were forced behind the curtain when it was clear that she was dying.”


The Pattersons were obviously heartbroken by the death of their young daughter and they were not pleased to learn that corners were cut to secure RU-486’s approval. They urged the Bush Administration to order it withdrawn from the market. They saw it as an issue simply of placing the “primary concern” with the health and welfare of young women. The Pattersons wrote in a letter dated November 6, 2003 that “According to Danco Laboratories, the abortion drug’s distributors, the RU-486 regimen fails to work 7-8% of the time.”


The Pattersons wrote, “We will actively support ‘Holly’s Law’ in Congress by Reps. DeMint, Bartlett and Senator Brownback to suspend and review the abortion drug RU-486…”


The FDA ordered the label on RU-486 strengthened in November 2004. New York Times reporter Gardiner Harris wrote in a November 16, 2004 article, “F.D.A., Responding to a Third Death Linked to Abortion Pill, Strengthens Warning Label,” that a California woman’s death in January 2004 “was the third in the United States that the Food and Drug Administration has linked to the pill since its approval in 2000.”


Now Representative Bartlett and Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) have reintroduced “Holly’s Law,” which would suspend RU-486’s approval by the FDA. The press conference was attended by some of the most notable social conservatives. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Pro-Life Caucus, made clear that there was no doubt in his mind that “the approval of RU-486 during the Clinton Administration was done in the name of political expediency instead of patient health.” Representatives Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) spoke as did representatives of Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the Susan B. Anthony List and the Religious Freedom Coalition.


The FDA has yet to act on the petition. Ideally the Administration, recognizing its commitment to the protection of life, would act simply because young women’s lives are endangered by a drug approval of which was granted for political purposes by the Clinton Administration. If congressional action needs to be taken so be it. How disappointing it would be for the Bush Administration, which has taken so many courageous stances, to let this one slide by. If worse comes to worse then Representative Bartlett and Senator DeMint stand ready to fight the good fight. The most important thing to remember is as long as RU-486 is on the market there will be women who take a drug of very questionable safety. This drug should never have been approved in an expedited process. It can be undone. The quicker this drug is withdrawn from the market the more lives will be saved.


Paul M. Weyrich is the President and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.




Control Issues (Christian Post, 050919)


Twice a year, two-score Midwest historians of Christianity, more of them Roman Catholic than not, gather at the Cushwa Center at the University of Notre Dame. We celebrate and criticize one book each meeting. This time it was Catholic University of America Professor Leslie Woodcock Tentler’s Catholics and Contraception: An American History — a prize winner, and deservedly so. Two Catholic historians offered formal critical responses, and then the rest of us joined in.


Professor Tentler is not an ideologue or an angry rebel. There was anger, but more than that, pain was evident in the book and in her presentation — though both the pain and the anger were enlivened by humor. She chronicles the attempt by bishops and priests to enforce anti-birth control measures in the first half of the previous century, and then observes the devastation to church discipline and authority that followed when too few Catholics believed in the strictures, or found that the strictures did not match their experiences.


Tentler tells of the millions of Catholics who tried — oh! they tried — to follow the teachings, and how at first they enjoyed the adjustments that came with gradual support for “family-planned” “natural methods” of limiting numbers of children. As an old hell-spotter on the margins of texts, I found the margins of my copy of the book getting cluttered with notations of “hell” and “purgatory.” Women who really believed in the values of obedience and confession had to confess, and regularly heard that if they remained engaged in family planning, hell was their destiny. Mission preachers in religious orders were most up-front, mainly because they could move on a few days after preaching a mission. Parish priests often came across as a much more understanding and humane lot, since they dealt continuously with parents of eleven or twelve children who could not, in Depression times, bear having a thirteenth.


“Don’t profane your holy matrimony with practices which fill heaven with disgust and hell with chuckling grins,” preached one missioner against coitus interruptus. New York’s Archbishop Hayes: “To take life after its inception is a horrible crime; but to prevent life that the Creator is about to bring into being is satanic ... [because] not only a body but an immortal soul is denied existence in time and eternity ... [through that] diabolical thing,” birth control. Something had to give, and most everything did, after Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1967, against the advice of most of his appointed counselors. He argued that to depart from the teaching of previous popes would lead to loss of papal authority. It turns out that not departing did.


Today there are movements among some Catholics to counter the practices most have adopted, as they advocate “natural methods” or ascetic life among married couples. Tentler would probably enjoy overhearing authorized and encouraged dialogues and arguments between that minority and everybody else. But, she and others rued, since Humanae Vitae, after which such dialogue was discouraged or forbidden, “we lack a structure for even discussing these things.”


Lacking a structure means that battles are fought among activists and editorialists who can blast the “other side,” but find no forum to talk to the other, or to listen. Such a breakdown of structure afflicts many non-Catholic Christians, too. Catholics report that priests today rarely bring up the subject. Silence.



Martin E. Marty’s biography, current projects, upcoming events, publications, and contact information can be found at Original Source: Sightings – A biweekly, electronic editorial published by the Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.




Abortion Drug Adverse Events Reported (Foxnews, 051230)


The FDA received reports of 607 adverse events involving the abortion drug RU-486 over a four-year period, it was reported this week.


The adverse events included five reported deaths and 68 cases of severe bleeding that required transfusions.


Late last month, federal officials confirmed that five women who died of toxic shock syndrome within a week of taking the drug to induce abortions had the same rare bacterial infection. Four ofthe deaths occurred in California and one in Canada. Three of these deaths were not among those included in the FDA’s 607 events.


The news set off a new round of calls by abortion opponents for the FDA to remove the drug, also known as Mifeprex, from the market. Danco Laboratories — the maker of Mifeprex — did not respond to a request for comment in time for the publication of this story.


According to the new report, a total of eight deaths have been blamed on RU-486, which was approved for use in the U.S. in September of 2000 for the termination of early pregnancies. Since that time, more than 460,000 doses of the drug have been distributed.


In addition to the five toxic shock deaths, a woman in Tennessee died from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy after taking the abortion drug, a Swedish teen died from a massive hemorrhage, and a woman in the U.K. died for unclear reasons.


Deaths Under Investigation


The 607 adverse events were reported to the FDA between September 2000 and September 2004. Federal officials say the agency is investigating the deaths and the other events.


A total of 237 cases of hemorrhage were reported, with one resulting in death, 68 requiring transfusions, and 42 characterized as life-threatening.


There were 66 cases of infection with seven cases of septic shock reported during the review period, with two resulting in death. Septic shock is a serious complication of infection in which the infection enters the bloodstream and affects vital organ systems.


Seventeen of the adverse events involved ectopic pregnancies that were not discovered until after the women had taken the abortion drug; eleven involved ruptures and one resulted in death. Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the fertilized egg is implanted in an area outside the uterus.


The findings were reported online Wednesday, and will be published in the February 2006 issue of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.


Researcher Margaret M. Gary, MD, tells WebMD that she believes the adverse reactions reported to the FDA make up only a fraction of the true medical events that actually occur among women who take the drug to induce abortions.


Gary and co-author Donna J. Harrison, MD, are with the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a group that has long called for the removal of RU-486 from the market.


“The FDA reports that only about 1% to 10% of adverse events for any given drug are ever reported,” she says. “And in this case women may be even less likely to report problems because they may be ashamed.”


Calls for More Research


Another problem, she says, is that even when women seek treatment their medical problem may not be recognized as being related to use of the drug. Early symptoms of drug-related bacterial infection often include abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are common among women who take the abortion drug.


Gary and Harrison are calling for increased research into allergic and fatal infection complications associated with the use of the abortion drug, and they are urging the FDA to do a better job of recording adverse events associated with its use.


“If our survey of (this drug’s) adverse event reports is representative of adverse event reporting for all drugs, the American public should be greatly alarmed,” they wrote. “The deficiencies were so egregious in some instances as to preclude analysis.”


Harvard Medical School obstetrics and gynecology professor Michael F. Greene, MD, tells WebMD that underreporting of adverse events may be less of a problem with RU-486 than with many other drugs because there is so much scrutiny of its use.


He does agree, however, that questions remain about the safety of the abortion drug. He says it is not clear if the drug is safer or less safe than spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or surgical abortion, or whether the deaths and other reported adverse events were caused by the drug.


Last July, the FDA announced that it would require Danco Laboratories to include a warning about possible bacterial infection on the drug’s packaging.


Greene says the research done to date on RU-486 cannot adequately “address the issue in a scientifically rigorous way.”


“I don’t have a dog in this fight,” he says. “But I do believe very strongly that women should have access to safe pregnancy termination rather than being forced to undergo unsafe pregnancy termination. If the safest way of terminating a pregnancy turns out to be surgical, then so be it. But until we have more compelling data, no one should leap to conclusions.”




Pope Blasts Abortion Pills, Gay Unions (Foxnews, 060112)


VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday that doctors should not give women the abortion pill because it hides the “gravity” of taking a human life, and also said it was wrong to give legal recognition to gay unions.


Benedict reaffirmed church teaching on both abortion and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman during an audience with officials from Rome and its surrounding Lazio region — touching on two major issues on Italy’s political agenda before general elections in April.


Benedict said pregnant women, particularly those in difficult situations, needed concrete help, and said officials should “avoid introducing drugs that hide in some way the gravity of abortion, as a choice against life.”


Abortion up to the end of the third month of pregnancy was legalized in predominantly Catholic Italy in 1978, after a long battle between the Vatican and secular forces. Recently, the abortion pill RU-486 became available in parts of Italy on an experimental basis.


The Italian Bishops’ Conference has mounted a renewed fight against abortion and the RU-486 pill, turning abortion into a campaign issue for the first time since Italians upheld the law in a 1981 referendum sponsored by the church in a bid to overturn it.

In other comments, Benedict stressed that marriage between man and woman was the cornerstone of society and not some “casual sociological construction” that could be replaced.


“It’s a serious error to obscure the value and function of the legitimate family founded on matrimony, attributing to other forms of unions improper legal recognition, for which there really is no social need,” he said.


Italy, where Vatican influence is strong, does not recognize unions of unmarried couples. Gay and lesbian associations have been pushing for common law couples to have legal recognition in hopes the move might pave the way for granting legal status to gay couples.


The center-left candidate for premier, Romano Prodi, has said his coalition would give legal status to unmarried couples if it wins the April 9 vote, but he has not supported legalizing gay marriage.


The president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, has said that common-law status might be applied to offer some legal protection to unmarried heterosexual couples — offering a rare exception to the church’s condemnation of de facto unions.


But he has said any such protection should stop short of envisioning “something similar to a marriage.”




Massachusetts Pharmacy Board Orders Wal-Mart to Carry Plan B Drugs (LifeNews, 060213)


Boston, MA ( — The Massachusetts state pharmacy board has ruled that Wal-Mart stores there must carry the morning after pill in its pharmacies, even though the company has a policy not to carry the Plan B pills in any of its stores. Pro-life groups oppose the drug because it can sometimes cause abortions.


The state becomes the second, after Illinois, to require the retail giant to carry the drugs and a Wal-Mart representative indicated the company would comply with the ruling.


The board’s unanimous vote comes three weeks after three women, all members of pro-abortion groups, sued Wal-Mart for refusing to carry the drugs.


Wal-Mart has until Thursday to provide the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy with written documentation verifying it is complying with the order.


Prior to the decision, the board said it had not received any complaints about Wal-Mart not carrying the drug.


Company spokesman Dan Fogelman says Wal-mart “chooses not to carry many products for business reasons,” citing low customer demand as one reason. He indicated that Wal-Mart pharmacists refer customers to other pharmacies that carry drugs it doesn’t.


Samuel Perkins, who represented the women in the lawsuit threatened to file more lawsuits in other states if the company does not change it’s national policy.


“Clearly women’s health is a high priority for Wal-Mart,” Fogleman told the Associated Press. “We are actively thinking through the issue.”


Perkins filed the complaint with the state pharmacy board at the same time he filed the lawsuit, claiming the retailer was violating state law.


Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, NARAL’s state affiliate, and a group that provides abortion funds for women all backed the women in the lawsuit.


Responding to the board’s decision, NARAL’s state affiliate said it was “delighted” and called on Wal-Mart to carry the Plan B drugs in all of its pharmacies. Wal-Mart operates 44 pharmacies in Massachusetts and more than 3,700 nationwide.


The group said it and it’s national organization have send 26,000 messages to Wal-Mart urging it to carry the morning after pill.


Last year the state legislature approved a measure allowing pharmacists to dispense the drug without a prescription and overrode a veto by Governor Mitt Romney.


Illinois became the first state to require the company to stock the morning after pill after pro-abortion Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an executive order forcing pharmacists to fill all legal prescriptions, including for drugs that can cause abortions.


Four pharmacists who were fired in January from a Walgreens store for refusing to fill the Plan B drug have filed suit seeking to overturn the order.




Can Christians Use Birth Control? (Mohler, 060508)


The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age—and one of the most ominous. This awareness is spreading among American evangelicals, and it threatens to set loose a firestorm.


Most evangelical Protestants greeted the advent of modern birth control technologies with applause and relief. Lacking any substantial theology of marriage, sex, or the family, evangelicals welcomed the development of “The Pill” much as the world celebrated the discovery of penicillin — as one more milestone in the inevitable march of human progress, and the conquest of nature.


At the same time, evangelicals overcame their traditional reticence in matters of sexuality, and produced a growth industry in books, seminars, and even sermon series celebrating sexual ecstasy as one of God’s blessings to married Christians. Once reluctant to admit the very existence of sexuality, evangelicals emerged from the 1960s ready to dish out the latest sexual advice without blushing. As one of the best-selling evangelical sex manuals proclaims, marital sex is Intended for Pleasure. Many evangelicals seem to have forgotten that it was intended for something else as well.


For many evangelical Christians, birth control has been an issue of concern only for Catholics. When Pope Paul VI released his famous encyclical outlawing artificial birth control, Humanae Vitae, most evangelicals responded with disregard — perhaps thankful that evangelicals had no pope who could hand down a similar edict. Evangelical couples became devoted users of birth control technologies ranging from the Pill to barrier methods and Intrauterine Devices [IUDs]. That is all changing, and a new generation of evangelical couples is asking new questions.


A growing number of evangelicals are rethinking the issue of birth control—and facing the hard questions posed by reproductive technologies. Several developments contributed to this reconsideration, but the most important of these is the abortion revolution. The early evangelical response to legalized abortion was woefully inadequate. Some of the largest evangelical denominations at first accepted at least some version of abortion on demand.


The evangelical conscience was awakened in the late 1970s, when the murderous reality of abortion could not be denied. A massive realignment of evangelical conviction was evident by the 1980 presidential election, when abortion functioned as the fuse for a political explosion. Conservative Protestants emerged as major players in the pro-life movement, standing side-by-side with Catholics in the defense of the unborn.


The reality of abortion forced a reconsideration of other issues in turn. Affirming that human life must be recognized and protected from the moment of conception, evangelicals increasingly recognized Intrauterine Devices [IUDs] as abortifacients, and rejected any birth control with any abortifacient design or result. This conviction is now casting a cloud over the Pill as well.


Thus, in an ironic turn, American evangelicals are rethinking birth control even as a majority of the nation’s Roman Catholics indicate a rejection of their Church’s teaching. How should evangelicals think about the birth control question?


First, we must start with a rejection of the contraceptive mentality that sees pregnancy and children as impositions to be avoided rather than as gifts to be received, loved, and nurtured. This contraceptive mentality is an insidious attack upon God’s glory in creation, and the Creator’s gift of procreation to the married couple.


Second, we must affirm that God gave us the gift of sex for several specific purposes, and one of those purposes is procreation. Marriage represents a perfect network of divine gifts, including sexual pleasure, emotional bonding, mutual support, procreation, and parenthood. We are not to sever these “goods” of marriage and choose only those we may desire for ourselves. Every marriage must be open to the gift of children. Even where the ability to conceive and bear children may be absent, the will to receive children must be present. To demand sexual pleasure without openness to children is to violate a sacred trust.


Third, we should look closely at the Catholic moral argument as found in Humanae Vitae. Evangelicals will find themselves in surprising agreement with much of the encyclical’s argument. As the Pope warned, widespread use of the Pill has led to “serious consequences” including marital infidelity and rampant sexual immorality. In reality, the Pill allowed a near-total abandonment of Christian sexual morality in the larger culture. Once the sex act was severed from the likelihood of childbearing, the traditional structure of sexual morality collapsed.


For most evangelicals, the major break with Catholic teaching comes at the insistence that “it is necessary that each conjugal act remain ordained in itself to the procreating of human life.” That is, that every act of marital intercourse must be fully and equally open to the gift of children. This claims too much, and places inordinate importance on individual acts of sexual intercourse, rather than the larger integrity of the conjugal bond.


The focus on “each and every act” of sexual intercourse within a faithful marriage that is open to the gift of children goes beyond the biblical demand. Since the encyclical does not reject all family planning, this focus requires the distinction between “natural” and “artificial” methods of birth control. To the evangelical mind, this is a rather strange and fabricated distinction. Looking at the Catholic position helps, but evangelicals must also think for themselves, reasoning from the Scriptures in a careful consideration.


Fourth, Christian couples are not ordered by Scripture to maximize the largest number of children that could be conceived. Given our general state of health in advanced societies, a couple who marries in their early twenties and has a healthy and regular sex life could well produce over fifteen offspring before the wife passes her early forties. Such families should be rightly honored, but this level of reproduction is certainly not mandated by the Bible.


Fifth, with all this in view, evangelical couples may, at times, choose to use contraceptives in order to plan their families and enjoy the pleasures of the marital bed. The couple must consider all these issues with care, and must be truly open to the gift of children. The moral justification for using contraceptives must be clear in the couple’s mind, and fully consistent with the couple’s Christian commitments.


Sixth, Christian couples must ensure that the methods chosen are really contraceptive in effect, and not abortifacient. Not all birth control is contraception, for some technologies and methods do not prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, but instead prevent the fertilized egg from successfully implanting itself in the lining of the womb. Such methods involve nothing less than an early abortion. This is true of all IUDs and some hormonal technologies. A raging debate now surrounds the question of whether at least some forms of the Pill may also work through abortifacient effect, rather than preventing ovulation. Christian couples must exercise due care in choosing a form of birth control that is unquestionably contraceptive, rather than abortifacient.


The birth control revolution has literally changed the world. Today’s couples rarely ponder the fact that the availability of effective contraceptives is a very recent phenomenon in world history. This revolution has set loose a firestorm of sexual promiscuity and much human misery. At the same time, it has also offered thoughtful and careful couples an opportunity to enjoy the joys and fulfillments of the marital act without remaining at all times equally open to pregnancy.


Therefore, Christians may make careful and discriminating use of proper technologies, but must never buy into the contraceptive mentality. We can never see children as problems to be avoided, but always as gifts to be welcomed and received.


For evangelicals, much work remains to be done. We must build and nurture a new tradition of moral theology, drawn from Holy Scripture and enriched by the theological heritage of the church. Until we do, many evangelical couples will not even know where to begin the process of thinking about birth control in a fully Christian frame. It is high time evangelicals answered this call.




Mystery Widens Over Abortion Pill-Related Deaths (Christian Post, 060511)


WASHINGTON (AP) - A rare germ that killed four California women who took the abortion pill RU-486 has been implicated in the deaths of even more women following childbirth or miscarriage, broadening the debate beyond abortion on the eve of a meeting to examine the bacterial mystery.


While the abortion link has grabbed the most attention, Clostridium sordellii has killed at least 11 other women, women’s health experts said in interviews. That’s more than twice as many as have died of infection after taking the abortion pill, also called Mifeprex or mifepristone.


The numbers suggest the bacterium’s threat, while still limited, could be broader than previously thought.


“That’s a critical question: Is this association between use of Mifeprex and infection with C. sordellii ... or is it something more general?” asked Susan Wood, the former top women’s health official at the Food and Drug Administration. She thinks it’s the latter.


Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and FDA are meeting Thursday in Atlanta to decide what research is needed to better understand the emerging threat posed by C. sordellii and a second bacterium, Clostridium difficile. The second germ is not linked to the abortion pill but is growing in prevalence in hospitals and nursing homes, and is increasingly resistant to antibiotics.


C. sordellii has been linked to four abortion pill deaths; a fifth is being investigated.


Opponents of the abortion pill have seized on those deaths — along with hundreds more complications after pill-induced abortions — to call for pulling Mifeprex from the market. A congressional hearing is set for next week, where Monty Patterson, a California man whose 18-year-old daughter died in 2003 after taking the abortion pill, is expected to renew his call for a ban. Also expected to testify is a doctor from the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


“We’ll let the scientists talk about the science but we already see the drug is killing women and causing a lot of adverse events,” said Michelle Gress, counsel to the subcommittee holding the hearing. A Senate bill proposes suspending sales of RU-486 while the Government Accountability Office reviews how the FDA approved the pill.


The drug’s manufacturer, Danco Laboratories, has repeatedly said the pill is safe.


The risk posed by C. sordellii remains murky. In studies and letters published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December and April, researchers detail eight other women who died of C. sordellii infection after giving birth, vaginally or by Caesarean section. Also counted are two additional deaths following miscarriages and a final death linked to infection during the woman’s menstrual period.


“That’s 11 other cases that have nothing to do with abortion — they’re other obstetric events,” said Dr. Beverly Winikoff, a women’s health advocate who worked to bring the abortion pill to the United States.


The abortion pill might suppress the immune system, which would increase susceptibility to bacteria already present in the vaginal canal, according to a study published last year by Dr. Ralph Miech of Brown University.


However, pregnancy naturally suppresses the immune system, too. Dilation of the cervix, whether because of abortion, childbirth or miscarriage, also may let bacteria penetrate deeper into the body, Miech and others have proposed.


Various species of Clostridium bacteria are found naturally in the vaginas of an estimated 4% to 10% of all women. C. sordellii in particular accounts for perhaps just 1% of those bacteria, meaning that roughly one in 1,000 women may harbor the bug. Winikoff said some doctors speculate that the presence of placental or fetal tissue in the vagina following childbirth, miscarriage or abortion could provide the medium the bug requires to flourish.


“It’s a vulnerability of the female genital tract. What unleashes it, we don’t know. Who’s at risk? We also don’t know,” Winikoff said.


Mifepristone works by blocking a hormone required to sustain a pregnancy. When followed two days later by another medicine, misoprostol, to induce contractions, a pregnancy is terminated. All four California women inserted the second drug into the vagina, a method of use not endorsed by the FDA, which urges that it be swallowed instead.


Dr. Didier Sicard, a French physician and ethicist whose 34-year-old daughter was the fourth fatality, recommended that all women should be administered antibiotics when undergoing a pill-induced abortion.


In addition to the highly publicized deaths, the FDA said it has received reports of 950 cases of adverse reactions to the pill, including 18 cases of severe infections in women who required hospitalization and antibiotics.


Nearly 600,000 women in the U.S. have used Mifeprex since its approval in 2000, according to Danco Laboratories. Roughly another 1.5 million women in Europe have used the drug.




Pope’s rejection of condoms a ‘denial of the epidemic’ (National Post, 090318)


PARIS — Pope Benedict XVI’s denunciation of condom use to prevent the spread of HIV sparked an international outcry on Wednesday as he toured Africa, the continent hardest hit by the disease.


The pope told reporters on his plane as he headed to Cameroon on Tuesday that AIDS “cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.”


The solution lies in a “spiritual and human awakening” and “friendship for those who suffer,” said Pope Benedict, who will also visit Angola during the weeklong trip.


The church has long banned the use of condoms and other contraceptives, despite a concensus among scientists and health experts that consistent and correct use of condoms substantially reduces the spread of HIV.


Michel Kazatchkine, the head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, demanded that the pope retract the statement, saying “these remarks are unacceptable.”


“It’s a denial of the epidemic. And to make these remarks on a continent that unfortunately is a continent where 70% of the people who have AIDS die, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” he told France Inter radio.


The French and Belgian governments both expressed concern over the pope’s remarks, which they said could harm public health campaigns.


“France voices extremely sharp concern over the consequences of Benedict XVI’s comments,” foreign ministry Eric Chevallier told reporters.


“While it is not up to us to pass judgment on Church doctrine, we consider that such comments are a threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life,” he said.


Belgium’s health ministry said in a statement that the minister Laurette Onkelinx “was stupified to learn of the remarks.”


“His remarks could destroy years of prevention and awareness, and endanger many human lives,” it warned.


The New York Times said in an editorial that the pope was “grievously wrong.”


“Health authorities consider condoms a valuable component of any well-rounded programme to prevent the spread of AIDS. It seems irresponsible to blame condoms for making the epidemic worse,” it said.


AIDS activists around the world also denounced the pope’s remarks, warning they could harm, efforts to rein in the disease that has infected 22 million people in Africa — two thirds of the global caseload.


“Is the pope living in the 21st century?” asked Alain Fogue, a spokesman for MOCPAT, a group in Cameroon campaigning for access to treatment for sufferers.


“To claim that condoms ‘aggravate’ the problem of AIDS goes totally against all the efforts made by the Cameroonian government and other actors implicated in the struggle against AIDS in Cameroon,” Fogue added.


The pope’s message only confuses the people about how to prevent the spread of HIV, especially in countries with large Catholic communities, said Judith Melby, an Africa specialist at the Christian Aid charity in Britain.


“The pope’s comments are not very helpful. It’s sending a confusing message to Africa, in those countries where the Catholic church is very important,” she said.


“Our policy is that abstinence is an important part of the package, but abstinence is not the only thing that is going to prevent HIV transmision.”


Most prevention campaigns include condoms as an important component, because the virus cannot pass through latex. [KH: Is this proven fact?]


“The access to condoms is absolutely essential to combat HIV,” Mohga Kamal-Yanni, an AIDS specialist for British charity Oxfam, told AFP.


“If we want to stop new infections which is happening among young people, we do need to use of condoms, we need to expand the use of condoms, not to decrease it.”


In India, where at least two million people have HIV, activists urged the pope to take a more pragmatic approach.


“A disease like HIV/AIDS that has no cure has to be prevented and condom usage is being advocated in this context. Condom use is critical in prevention,” said Akhila Sivadas, who heads the Centre for Advocacy and Research, a prominent volunteer group.


“It is not being promoted as a lifestyle product. You need a pragmatic approach, you need to set aside all your queasiness and deal with it as a public health issue.”




Bishop Speaks Out Against Contraception in Schools (Christian Post, 090421)


LONDON - The Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, William Kenney, has criticized a scheme at six Oxfordshire schools, including one Catholic school, where students will be given access to contraception including the emergency pill and advice on how to use it.


The scheme is set to be piloted in July. The “emergency” pill is considered by many to be a form of abortion.


Bishop Kenney, who also performs mass at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School every year, said, “It goes against the very central idea the Catholic church has on human life,” as reported by The Telegraph.


He continued, “It is sending out the message that it was better to deal with the aftermath of what people do, rather than the causes ... I don’t think this will help solve the teenage pregnancy rate and is taking away responsibility from parents.”


Governors at St. Gregory’s and the five other schools where the scheme is being run have been given no right to refuse the scheme by the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust and the Oxfordshire County Council.


The authorities claim that the service is “outside the governance of the schools” as it will be offered after school hours.


The headmaster of St. Gregory’s, John Hussey, did not comment.


The school chaplain, Father Daniel Seward, said, “The school is part of the Catholic church and the church has a very clear view that sexual relations take place properly within marriage and that any abortion or contraception is contrary to the dignity of the human person.


“Sex is never just a recreational activity,” he added.


The Oxfordshire authorities said they were setting up the service to deal with “persistently high” levels of teenage pregnancies in the area.


The six schools which were chosen to take part in the programme have teenage pregnancy rates higher than the national average.


In a joint statement the primary care trust and the county council said, “The plans are still in the early stages and discussions will be taking place with a wide range of people including the schools.


“However, these plans are about giving young people access to a school health nurse outside the school and therefore fall outside the governance of schools.


“This is not about giving out contraceptives in schools, it is about providing access to advice on a wide range of health issues from a school health nurse outside the school setting, to support vulnerable young people who may need help outside of school hours.


“It is not that the schools involved have high conception rates but rather, that they sit in wards that have been shown to have persistently high teenage conception rates.”


The primary care trust also said that it would bring in child protection staff if children between the age of 11 and 13 asked for contraception.




 Italy Gives OK to RU486 Abortion Pill (Christian Post, 090731)


Health and drugs authorities in Italy approved the use of the abortion drug RU486 late Thursday after years of debate.


Though the Italian Pharmaceuticals Agency (AIFA) decided after a meeting that the drug cannot be sold in drug stores and can only be administered by doctors in a hospital, the ruling drew immediate protests from the Vatican, which said it would excommunicate doctors and nurses who prescribed the drug and any patients who used it.


The Italian drug agency said the pill can be taken up to the seventh week of pregnancy.


Since 1978, on-demand abortion has been legal in Italy for women in the first 90 days of pregnancy and until the 24th week if the life of the mother is at risk or the fetus is malformed.


The RU486 was first introduced in France almost two decades ago and is available in several other European countries. Approval in Italy, however, has been held up by the Catholic Church, which opposes abortion and contraception.


A Vatican spokesman says taking a pill may be less traumatic for a woman, but it does not change the face that it is still abortion.




China Tries to Sterilize 10,000 Parents Over One-Child Rule (Foxnews, 100416)


Family planning authorities have detained hundreds of people against their will in a campaign to sterilize 10,000 men and women suspected of trying to violate China’s strict birth control policies.


About 1,300 people were being held in cramped and poor conditions in offices throughout the small town of Puning in southern Guangdong Province and are forced to listen to “lectures” on state rules limiting the size of families, the Nanfang Countryside Daily said.


In the years after China launched its strict “one couple, one child” family planning policy in the late 1970s, abuses such as forced later-term abortions, sterilizations and even the killing of newborn babies were widely reported.


But such practices have fallen sharply in recent years as the policy has become quite widely accepted and exceptions have been introduced.


However, officials in Puning launched a 20-day campaign on April 7 since so many couples have left the area in search of factory jobs and have found it easier to have children outside the government-set quotas.


The county intends to sterilize 9,559 women or their husbands who are suspected of planning to have a second or third child. So far about half that number have agreed to comply, the newspaper





Pro-Lifers Blast FDA Approval of ‘Abortion Drug’ Ella (Christian Post, 100816)


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the sale and use of an “emergency contraceptive” that opponents are calling the “new abortion drug.”


“Women deserve better than this,” said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. “If the FDA deliberately misleads women by mislabeling the drug as a contraceptive, and does not send the drug back for adequate trials to determine the possible serious complications to women and their babies, it will be putting abortion politics above women’s health.”


Called ella, the drug is a prescription-only product that prevents pregnancy when taken orally within 120 hours after a contraceptive failure or unprotected intercourse, according to the FDA. Ella is not intended for routine use as a contraceptive.


The likely main effect of the drug is to inhibit or delay ovulation, the FDA stated.


Plan B, or the “morning-after pill,” is the only other emergency contraceptive on the market and prevents pregnancy up to 72 hours.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America applauded the approval.


“Ella, or UPA, is safe and effective at preventing ovulation and therefore pregnancy in the five days after unprotected intercourse,” said PPFA Vice President for Medical Affairs Dr. Vanessa Cullins. “Given the fact that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, it is vital that women have an array of choices available to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Ella will become an important option for women.”


Pro-life groups, meanwhile, contend that ella operates the same way as RU-486, the one legal abortion drug in the United States, yet is being prescribed as an emergency contraceptive.


“The FDA opted against including the critical fact that Ella can cause an abortion on a baby already implanted in its mother’s womb in the drug labeling information,” said Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. “The difference between preventing and destroying life is enormous, and women have the right to know how this drug will act on their bodies and on their babies.”


Ella, Monahan argues, works very differently than Plan B.


“Plan B cannot terminate an already implanted embryo, whereas ella can,” she said. “Plan B is a kind of progesterone, and progesterone is needed by the uterine lining to grow and feed the embryo. Ella is a selected progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM). An SPRM blocks progesterone receptors and thereby starves a developing baby of this needed protein.”


The currently legal RU-486 is an SPRM and has resulted in numerous deaths of women.


“The FDA advisory panel largely ignored important questions, including impacts on women’s health and the abortifacient capacity of Ella,” Monahan added. “The FDA and the Obama Administration now follow suit. By approving this drug quietly on a Friday afternoon when most of Washington was on vacation, the Obama Administration and the FDA once again placed politics above science, women’s health and informed consent.”


Critics have also raised concerns that with the approval of ella, the Obama administration has paved the way to “covertly allow federal funding for abortion.”


In March, President Obama signed an executive order restricting abortion funding under the new health care reform law. Pro-lifers, however, are still wary that abortions will be covered by tax dollars.


Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is calling on Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from providing funding for ella or insurance coverage that includes ella.


“Ella might ... be mandated as a preventive service under Obamacare thus forcing insurance companies to cover this new abortion drug,” Smith said in a statement. “The FDA is supposed to protect people from dangerous drugs and deceptive marking. Instead, ... they have proven they are willing to be complicit in this abortion cover-up.


“At a minimum the drug should be classified as an abortion drug,” he asserted.


The prescription product has been available in Europe since last May.




Teen moms on TV — the new birth control? (National Post, 101222)


The rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States has dropped to its lowest level in 70 years and some experts pinpoint a surprising catalyst: the popularity of reality television shows chronicling the perils of teenage motherhood.


New U.S. data released Tuesday found that in 2009 the birth rate among girls aged 15 to 19 fell to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens. That’s a 6% decline — the largest one-year drop in 40 years.


It is a surprising reversal after two years of increases in the teen birthrate in both the United States and Canada, in 2006 and 2007, after a decade of steady decline.


The six-per-cent drop is “a fairly big decline,” says Brady Hamilton, a statistician with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.


That kind of decrease hasn’t been seen since 1962, just as the birth control pill was being introduced, when teen births fell by 8%.


The centre is preparing a study next year that examines sexual behaviour among teens and may shed some light on the impact of shows such as Teen Mom, said Stephanie Ventura, who co-authored the study on teen birth rates.


“They could have had some influence,” she said. “They are a strong public relations message about teen pregnancy prevention being really important.”


Critics have complained that shows such as Teen Mom are part of a trend toward glamorizing teen pregnancy, but the latest statistics suggest they may be having the opposite effect.


“As far as I’m concerned, they are among the most effective teen-pregnancy prevention PSAs ever made,” said Bill Albert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy in Washington, D.C. “They have been enormously effective.”


The organization released a survey this month of teens who had watched MTV’s 2009 show 16 and Pregnant, and found that 87% felt that the show helped educate them on the real challenges of pregnancy and teen parenthood.


Just 17% felt the show glorified teen pregnancy, compared with 41% of adults.


“Anyone who has watched the show knows it shows a very gritty reality of teen pregnancy,” Mr. Albert said. “There’s nothing glamorous about those young people’s lives.”


Pediatricians have worried that turning teen moms into celebrities would encourage young girls to get pregnant, said Dr. Lawrence Friedman, director of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami Health System. It would be welcome news if the opposite was true.


“We hope it indicates a good trend,” he said, “although we won’t know unless those kids who are polled are also participating in some kind of survey in the future on whether they have altered their sexual practises, or increased their use of contraception, or improved their condom rates.”


Despite the two-year increase in the middle of the decade, teen pregnancy rates had been steadily dropping since the 1990s even as sex became more pervasive on TV and in movies, said Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute.


“I’m never a big believer in the direct line between the TV and teen behaviour and teen pregnancy,” she said. “If you want, the story could be it’s 100% because of Twilight. Bella’s not having sex, but someone else is. It depends on which TV show and which movies come out in which year.”


The long-term decrease in teen pregnancy has more to do with an increase in contraceptive use among teens, particularly condom use among boys, she said. Teen sexual behaviour has also shifted away from intercourse toward other forms of sexual contact, Dr. Friedman said.


“I wish there was one simple answer, then we could just go replicate year in and year outs,” Ms. Lindberg said. “Teens live in a very complex world, and there’s more than one factor that influences their behaviour.”




U.K. High Court Rejects Bid to OK At-Home Abortion Drugs (Christian Post, 110215)


Women seeking abortions in England, Wales and Scotland will have to continue taking abortion medication at a medical clinic rather than at home following a ruling by Britain’s High Court.


The court on Monday rejected a bid by abortion provider BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) to reinterpret the 1967 Abortion Act, which requires a pregnancy be “terminated by a registered medical practitioner.”


Specifically, BPAS sought to pave the way for women to be prescribed the abortion drug misoprostol while taking the first drug, mifepristone, at a clinic so that the second could be self-administered at home.


“This would have put an end to women making multiple, medically unnecessary visits to clinics and eliminated the risk of abortion symptoms beginning - and in some cases the miscarriage itself occurring - as they travelled home after taking the tablets,” Britain’s largest abortion provider argued Monday in a statement following the ruling.


However, while BPAS claimed that the prescription of an abortion drug could be considered “treatment” from a medical practitioner, High Court Justice Michael Supperstone argued that “treatment” is not, in his view, properly restricted to the act of diagnosis and the prescription of drugs or medicine.


“If the drugs or tablets were prescribed by the registered medical practitioner and not taken by the woman, the opportunity for treatment would have been available but it would not have been taken,” Supperstone wrote in Monday’s judgment.


Furthermore, the judge pointed out that while misoprostol may have a record of safety and effectiveness, accepting BPAS’s claim would open the door for abortion drugs that don’t. BPAS’s proposed change would also apply for abortion of fetuses over nine weeks old.


“In my judgment, for the reasons that I have given, this claim fails,” Supperstone concluded.


Quickly after the judgment’s release, pro-lifers hailed the court’s decision as a victory for women, claiming that it was a “welcome message in a society which has been led to believe that abortion is an easy ‘answer’ to an unplanned pregnancy.”


“Britain has some of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe and one of the highest abortion rates, and we need to reduce the number of abortions and tighten the law, not relax it,” remarked Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of U.K.-based Christian Concern.


“If BPAS had won this case, it would send out the false signal that there is a ‘safe’ route to abortion,” added Katherine Hampton, a spokeswoman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which intervened in BPAS’s legal battle against the Secretary of State for Health.


“That could lead to more abortions, and more dead babies and more suffering for women,” Williams claimed. “It would also have led to further restrictions on conscientious objection to abortion by doctors and nurses.”


Notably, however, BPAS has vowed to move forward with its efforts, noting Supperstone’s remarks on the Secretary of State’s power “to approve a wider range of place, including potentially the home, and the conditions on which such approval may be given relating to the particular medicine and the manner of its administration or use.”


“[I]f the law as it stands allows the Secretary of State to approve a woman’s home as a ‘class of place’ for abortion then this is what he must do,” stated BPAS Chief Executive Ann Furedi. “We look forward to discussing with Ministers and officials how quickly this can happen.”


According to data from the Office of National Statistics, there were 67,836 medical abortions below 9 weeks gestation in England and Wales in 2009. Such abortions accounted for 48% of all early terminations that year, compared to 18% in 2002. There were a further 6,531 early medical abortions in Scotland, according to Scotland’s Information Services Division.


In Northern Ireland, where BPAS’s legal challenge would not have applied, abortion is illegal unless the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.




A deadly anniversary (World Magazine, 110922)

Megan Dunham


This Sunday marks the 31st anniversary of China’s one-child policy. Created for the purpose of improving social, economic, and environmental problems in the country, it was supposed to end in 2010. Instead, believing it has contributed to China’s economic prosperity, the government has decided to keep it in place indefinitely.


Economics aside, the policy, combined with China’s strong preference for sons over daughters, has most definitely contributed to a multitude of horrific practices, leading to the loss of millions of girls through abortion, prenatal sex selection, infanticide, abandonment, and trafficking.


In June 2010, a woman named Chai Ling founded All Girls Allowed, a humanitarian organization devoted to restoring life, value, and dignity to girls and mothers in China.


“As Christians, our only reaction should be deep sadness and outrage that leads to desperate prayer,” says Ling. “We are standing up to a massive communist government and saying that every baby deserves to live. This is God giving us an opportunity to pray more desperately than we ever have before.”


This coming Sunday, on this deadly anniversary, churches around the world will watch a short video produced by All Girls Allowed and pause to pray for China and the 37 million girls who have been lost since the policy was implemented in 1980.


When asked why this anniversary is so significant, Ling starts with basic math: “You know, the policy was only supposed to last 30 years, and already China says they have ‘prevented’ more than 400 million lives. Many scholars and experts have said that China will fall apart unless the policy is not only abolished, but education and effort is put into reversing some of the effects of the policy, like China’s massive gender imbalance and aging problems.”


But with the anniversary being on a Sunday this year, Ling goes beyond the arithmetic, issuing a call for Christians to take notice and pray more desperately and helplessly than ever before. She reminds us that this is an issue we really can’t do anything about, even if we had billions of dollars or a bill passed. It is going to take prayer to stop China’s one-child policy.