Coloratura Christian

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:4-5)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?

This question has consumed much of my thoughts over the last few weeks.

I must admit that I've heard rumblings in the past about the abortive effect of the pill, but always passed it off as an "extreme" or "uninformed" opinion. Not only has my doctor told me that the pill prevents ovulation, but the oral contraceptive pill is also widely accepted among evangelicals and is often recommended by Christian doctors as a valid option for birth control. Surely they could not all be wrong!

My views were challenged recently while listening to a sermon by Dr. Mohler entitled Naked and Not Ashamed: Message 2-- Reproductive Techniques and Contraception . In this message he says we should be careful about using new technology, because it can have significant ethical consequences. We shouldn't assume that the technologies are neutral or even good, and he also mentions that there is research that shows that some oral contraceptive pills cause abortions.

Since then, I have done a fair amount of reading on the issue and found that pro-life doctors are divided. It seems to come down to the fact that there is simply not enough research done to show conclusively whether the claimed abortive back up mechanism actually takes place. The hormones in the pill cause changes in the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) which is said to reduce the likelihood of the implantation of a fertilized egg should ovulation occur.

I searched various websites of pastors and ministries that I trust, but found very little on the subject. Desiring God ministries does make a statement about birth control. I was surprised, but somewhat relieved to find that they are not against the use of "artificial" birth control, and even link to an article called, "Why Pro-Life Advocates Should Not Link Abortion to Contraception in Public Debates."

While there are many good articles by pro-life physicians representing each side of the argument, discovering the truth can be difficult because everyone is contradicting each other. There are many theories in circulation and much conjecture. After reading many of these articles, I found I was more informed, but also more confused.

The best booklet that I read on the subject is by a pastor named Randy Alcorn who believes the birth control pill is abortive. I have yet to hear of anyone else who has compiled such thorough research. It seems that he uses less conjecture and more fact as he has extensive documentation to back up his statements. He has consulted the Physician's Desk Reference, medical journals and textbooks, the pill manufacturers, and many physicians and pharmacists. The whole booklet can be found online here.

Some other articles I found helpful were the following:

Hormone Contraceptives Controversies and Clarifications
(Authored by four Christian ProLife Obstetrician-Gynecologists who feel the pill is not abortive.)

Birth Control Pill: Abortifacient and Contraceptive
(Physicians who believe the pill is abortive.)

Do Oral Contraceptives Cause Abortions?
(Prolife Physicians who discuss the points of disagreement within the prolife community and take a neutral position.)

Is the Oral Contraceptive Pill an Abortifacient?
(A pharmacologist's article written in response to a critique of Alcorn's position.)


  • At March 26, 2006, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thank you, that was a wonderful post. I too was challenged in my oppinion of the pill shortly before I was married when I came across Randy Alcorm's book. Since then my views on birth control have changed completely.
    It comes down to this: which side would you rather err on? And is it really so bad to err on not taking it and having a child?

  • At March 26, 2006, Blogger Unknown said…

    I just read the link to the Desiring God sight and don't think he is addressing the fact that abortions may take place. Here is the excerpt:

    "Should natural family planning be preferred to "artificial" contraception?
    Some conclude that "natural family planning" is acceptable but "artificial" means are not. But this seems to overlook something significant: in both cases, you are still seeking to regulate when you have children. And so if one concludes that it is wrong to seek to regulate the timing and size of a family, then it would have to be concluded that natural family planning is just as wrong as "artificial" means. But if one concludes that it is appropriate to steward the timing and size of one's family, then what makes "artificial" means wrong but natural family planning right? Surely it is not because God is "more free" to overrule our plans with natural family planning! Perhaps some have concluded that artificial forms are wrong because they allow one more fully to separate intercourse from the possibility of procreation. But if it is wrong to have intercourse without a significant possibility of procreation, then it would also be wrong to have intercourse during pregnancy or after a woman is past her childbearing years. There is no reason to conclude that natural family planning is appropriate but that "artificial" means are not."

    I believe (from my aquaintance with Pastor Piper's position on abortion) that if there is a chance they cause abortions he would not support them but that is not the issue he addresses above.
    However, I am often very shocked on how little this topic is addressed in Christian circles!

  • At March 26, 2006, Blogger Christel Humfrey said…

    Hi Jodi,

    Thanks for your comments! I am sure you are right that Piper would never support the use of the pill if he thought it was abortive.

    Although DGM is not directly addressing whether the OCP causes abortions in their statement on birth control, they are essentially saying that birth control pills are a valid means of birth control. This seems to imply that they have come to the conclusion that the OCP is not abortive. (Unless of course they are unaware of the controversy. But this seems unlikely.)

  • At March 27, 2006, Blogger Sarah Fullerton said…

    We struggled through this issue in the months before we got married - read Alcorn's stuff and also did other research, and like you, were unable to come to a definite conclusion... several months into our marriage, we ended up deciding not to use the pill because if there was any chance it might cause an abortion, that risk was more important to consider than the "risk" of getting pregnant. But lots of godly people we know have come to different conclusions. For us it was an issue of following our own conscience. Two kids and lots of joy later, we're at the point where we're pretty happy to take as many kids as God wants to give us, even if the spacing is a little closer than what the world considers ideal, so it's no longer a big issue for us personally, but if you come across any thing more conclusive, let us all know!

  • At March 27, 2006, Blogger Unknown said…

    Martha, Martha,
    That is JUST the conclusion we came to: however the Lord wants to give us. You should hear some of the responses I get to that one! I only wish people wouldn't think that just because we came to that conclusion that we think everyone should. Nonetheless, it sure does take a lot of the stress about these personal issues off, huh?

    About DGM, I will see if my brother know anything about that. He is acquainted with Pastor Piper and attends his church. Perhaps there are other rescources they have put out regarding this issue. I guess I just have a hard time (even after reading your links) seeing how this issue could be unclear to those who believe that life begins at conception.

  • At March 27, 2006, Blogger Christel Humfrey said…

    Thanks for sharing about your struggles (and conclusion) with this issue. It is also wonderful to hear how much joy your children bring you!

    Please let me know if you find any other resources from DGM. I would be very interested to read them.

    Thanks again for sharing your insights.

  • At April 11, 2006, Blogger Renee said…

    I have read the booklet by Randy Alcorn which is excellent and helpful.

    Honestly, I have other concerns about the pill. Follow me for a minute. We have doctors that say alcohol use over extended periods of time will affect your unborn child, your DNA, smoking changes DNA, eating to much of this and to much of that will cause whatever problems in your future children, etc. Every drug on the market, after a certain amount of use, can cause extreme side effects and changes in the system. Why then do they claim that the use of HORMONES (the pill), that directly interacts with everything dealing with the reproductive system (to include the eggs) does not have a long term affect on future children? This really defies common sense and it doesn't take a doctor to validate if you take hormones to change a natural function of the body, there is chance for a negative consequence and may cause problems. I am waiting to see when someone will finally do a correlation of the number of barren women (who now must seek invitro or some other artificial method) who were born after 1975 (the pill came out in the late 50's early 60's but it was not wide spread til the 70's). We hear a lot of talk about more women needing to go the invitro route but no one ever asks why. Just a little basic research will show that it is extremely "coincidental" this number increased, as the pill and other formes of "reproduction cycle changing" contraceptions are more prevalent. I don't know if there is a medical correlation, just saying that as far as looking ofr something that occured during the saem time frame, that could affect the reprodcutive system, the pill and all its manifestations is evident.

    I just wanted to toss this out for thought.

  • At April 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post, thanks for bringing it up.

    My wife and I are in the same boat as Martha Martha. My wife is a biology major & science teacher and after reading the research her conclusion was that the modern pill does prevent implantation of fertilized eggs in the uterus, so we stopped using the pill. Interestingly, she found that the old versions of the pill, the ones my parents may have used, did not have that added component, it was only to prevent fertilization. So lots of people may be misled by information on the old pill.

    I'll see if I can find the articles she researched & get them to you.

  • At April 15, 2006, Blogger Christel Humfrey said…

    Renee and Mo,

    Thanks for your comments!

    Mo, I would really appreciate any articles you could direct me to for futher research.


  • At May 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hope this comment doesn't get my head bitten off but my fiance and I (I am only 22) are trying to make a wise decision about birth control... something we are often presented with is that isn't abortion intentional and doesn't God know that in taking the pill we do not desire to kill a life... but that we recognize that God made us biologically and thus if we have school etc that He would create means to avoid a pregnancy that we could not support?? My parents who are in the medical field don't think it is abortive and it seems like us not taking the pill would cause more problems than good... any thoughts?

  • At May 08, 2006, Blogger Christel Humfrey said…

    Dear Anonymous,

    Don't worry, you won't get your "head bitten off" here. :) I can certainly understand where you're coming from. Time, maturity and money are important factors to consider when thinking about having a baby. I think you are wise in doing this!

    I would encourage you to research and read up on the whole debate yourself. While it can be tempting to rely on what other people say about it (for convenience sake), I think it is always better to seek to find out the truth for ourselves. We each will have to give account to God for our actions (and we won't be able to say, "but this person said...")

    I have come to the conclusion myself that the risk of killing a baby is worse that the "risk" of having a baby. And from what I've read, I've come to the conclusion that the pill most likely is abortive.

    I think it may be faulty logic to say that if we kill babies on the pill, it is not intensional, and therefore not abortive. The reason is, if you take the pill, you are intentionally putting something in your body that you know could harm a child.

    I would maybe liken it to driving a vehicle recklessly down the road. Your primary intension is not to kill someone, your primary intension is perhaps to get somewhere quickly. You may even pray, "God help me not to kill anyone," and sincerely hope you don't kill anyone. However, if you hit and kill someone, you are still responsible. You caused their death (even if it wasn't intensional.)

    Finally, I just want to say that there are other means of birth control other than the pill. I've been looking into the Fertility Awareness Method, and of course there are barrier methods (such as condoms.)

    I hope this is helpful. I know it's a really difficult decision to make. May God guide you in your decision making process.


  • At January 04, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    have you read anything about the ethics of fertility practices?

    FYI, love Piper.


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