You Can’t Argue With Science! What Contraception Is and What it Isn’t!
By Carol Rood
The Hobby Lobby case has certainly got people stirred up. Religious freedom? Corporations are more important than people? Corporations ARE a “person”?
Regardless of what your religious beliefs are and regardless of what your believe a corporation should and shouldn’t provide for their employees, or what a corporation should or shouldn’t be, the basic facts about contraception are pretty clear to me. Hobby Lobby says it is only offended by 4 different types of contraceptives. 2 are Intrauterine Devices (IUD) and 2 are “morning after” pills. That the mandated healthcare it supplies still allows for 16 approved contraceptives. This makes the dissent about the 4 it no longer provides somehow a moot point in their opinion.
In their argument Hobby Lobby asserts that these 4 items can cause abortion. So let’s first examine what an abortion is and isn’t.
The word abortion comes from the Latin abortio, which means to abort, miscarry, deliver prematurely. The Latin word abortus means “miscarriage, premature, untimely birth”. In medicine abortion means ending a pregnancy prematurely. What is a medical abortion? A medical abortion is one that uses a drug to terminate the pregnancy. Medical abortions can only be done during the first nine weeks after conception. The drug, mifepristone (Mifeprex), is taken orally in pill form – it blocks progesterone. Without progesterone the lining of the uterus will thin and the pregnancy will end.
After taking mifepristone the woman comes back to the doctor a few days later and takes misprostol (Cytotec). Misprostol makes the uterus contract and empty. Some women will bleed after taking misprostol; this bleeding can go on for up to a couple of weeks.
For a surgical abortion the doctor removes the lining of the womb, either by MVA (manual vacuum aspiration) or D&C (dilatation suction curettage). Both procedures use suction. With MVA a handheld tool is used, while D&C is carried out with a suction machine and tools.
So we can see that a medical abortion requires TWO different pills to be taken within a few days of each other. Neither of these pills can be obtained over the counter, but must be prescribed by a physician.
So, just based on scientific facts, let’s examine what an IUD is and what it isn’t. Then we can talk about morning after pills.
An Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small flexible CONTRACEPTIVE (notice I did not say pregnancy terminating device) that is inserted into the uterus. An IUD is usually made of plastic and is shaped like the letter T. This contraceptive method is long lasting, safe and extremely effective.
Two IUD brands are available in the United States: Mirena and ParaGard. The IUD is the most popular form of reversible birth control in the world.
The Mirena intrauterine device (IUD) is made of flexible plastic. It releases a low amount of progestin levonorgestrel continuously over a 5-year period as a way to prevent pregnancy. This IUD is manufactured by Bayer Healthcare Pharmacueticals. (For the record Hobby Lobby’s 401K invests in Bayer Healthcare Pharmacueticals.) Additionally the Mirena IUD can reduce menstrual cramps, total amount of monthly period bleeding and has been FDA-approved to treat heavy menstrual bleeding.
The ParaGard intrauterine device (also called the Copper T 380A) is about 1-1/4 inches wide by 1-3/8 inches long, made of flexible plastic and wrapped in copper. It is hormone free. Note that with ParaGard, your periods won’t get shorter or lighter; rather, they may get heavier and longer. The ParaGard IUD releases a tiny amount of copper over a 10-year period as a way to prevent pregnancy. (This IUD is manufactured by Duramed)
Both the Mirena IUD and the ParaGard IUD prevent sperm from joining with an egg by interfering with the movement of the sperm toward the egg. Both IUDs also change the lining of the uterus. In theory, this change to the uterine wall may keep a fertilized egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus, but there is no proof that this actually happens. For some women, the progestin in the Mirena IUD may also prevent ovulation from occurring. The progestin also thickens a woman’s cervical mucus, so the thicker mucus can further block sperm from joining with an egg.
Now let’s discuss “morning after pills”.
Plan B is a type of emergency CONTRACEPTION (notice I did not say pregnancy terminating). This is birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Although it is referred to as the “morning after” pill, you don’t have to wait until the morning after sex to take it. In fact, Plan B is more effective the sooner you take it. It is a one-dose regimen: you take one pill. The pill contains 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel, which is used in lower doses in many birth control pills. Remember reading earlier about the “abortion” pill. Different chemicals, and that requires TWO pills, this is only one and is NOT the same dosage or the same drug.
Plan B One-Step is not the same as RU-486, which is an abortion pill. It does not cause a miscarriage or abortion. In other words, it does not stop development of a fetus once the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. So it will not work if you are already pregnant when you take it. NOTE: it will NOT stop an already pregnant woman from continuing on with her pregnancy, and if you remember your earlier reading, and abortion is a termination of a pregnancy. This prevents, not terminates a pregnancy.
The other drug the company is opposed to is “ella”, which is fairly new on the market. This pill acts to suppress progesterone. This delays ovulation for up to five days, giving sperm time to die before an egg is released. It can also thin the lining of your uterus, making it harder for a fertilized egg to be implanted.
Are these pills abortion pills?? No. The abortion pill is already on the market and has been since 2000. Mifeprex (generic name: mifepristone, called RU-486 in Europe) is given only in a doctor’s office. It interferes with the actions of progesterone, which in turn interrupts the pregnancy. A second drug is then given to cause the uterus to contract and expel its contents. (as noted above).
So as I stated earlier, whatever your religious beliefs are or are not you can’t argue with science and milligrams of a drug in a pill.
Are these devices manufactured to terminate pregnancies?? NO!!
These devices are manufactured and available to women as CONTRACEPTIVE devices. The emotion in this case overwhelms people’s ability to just whittle out the rhetoric and see the science and facts for what they are.
I am not a scholar on corporations and “personhood”, so for facts about that you will need to turn to someone who understands that type of stuff, but science I “get”. Biology I “get”.
And now hopefully you will “get” it a little more as well.
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