By Mr. Dean Idsinga (B.ScN, RN) and Rev. Trent Herbert – Reprinted With Permission from Truth and Love for Life
Many women take Oral Contraceptives (OCs) also known as Birth Control Pills (BCPs). Many in our churches promote their use. It is our concern that incomplete information is being spread out to the public and professionals. Randy Alcorn has given a detailed look at the many issues surrounding OCs. The following information is evidence that Canadian sources are not uniform in their presentation of the facts surrounding OCs.
Informed Consent and the Birth Control Pill
- Many people (lay and professional) believe pregnancy begins at conception.
- Any different definition of pregnancy should be clearly defined as such. Currently in Oral Contraceptive (OC) literature this is not always the case.
- A contraceptive prevents contraception or impregnation (therefore prevents fertilization). If it allows conception, but prevents implantation- it should no longer be called merely a contraceptive.
- Oral Contraceptives may not always prevent conception. They may sometimes prevent implantation.
- In those circumstances where implantation is prevented, they are abortifacient (abortion causing). The description of this mechanism of action as an Oral Contraceptive would not be completely true.
- Any information that claims to be complete, and is known by it’s originator to be incomplete, is intentionally deceptive.
- Our concern is that all mechanisms of action of OCs are not clearly presented to the consumer.
- Definitions of pregnancy may also not be clearly defined.
- Therefore our concern is that informed consent is not always given.
Health Canada and Oral Contraceptives
Oral Contraceptives: A report by the Special Advisory Committee on Reproductive Physiology to the drugs Directorate Health Protection Branch Health Canada is the standard Canadian government reference for OCs.
Under the section ‘2. Hormonal Methods of Contraception’ it is written:
OCs may exert their contraceptive action in at least four ways:
- by inhibiting ovulation
- by causing endometrial changes hindering implantation
- by altering the physical and chemical properties of the cervical mucus, thereby inhibiting sperm penetration; and
- by causing subtle changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and possibly altering corpus luteum function. The steroid profiles quite often show either insufficient or an absence of luteal activity, or as a significant and graduel decrease in several indices of luteal function.
Probably none of these factors alone accounts for the high degree of anti-fertility effect of any OC. They may all play a part in the production of effective contraception.1
This is clear evidence that there may be at least four known methods of action. Later in this document is the information written for the consumer, ‘Supplementary Information Booklet for Patients Considering the Use of Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills)’, which states:
This booklet will give you information to make an informed choice on the use of oral contraceptives…
How birth control pills work
Birth Control Pills work in two ways:
- They inhibit the monthly release of an egg by the ovaries.
- They change the mucus produces by the cervix. This slows the movement of the sperm through the mucus and through the uterus (womb).2
This Health Canada document first made it clear that there may be at least four mechanisms of action. Yet in the patient information, informed consent (choice) is proclaimed while endometrial changes inhibiting implantation is not mentioned. This information may be misleading.
The Canadian Drug Reference for Health Professionals
The Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialities: The Canadian Drug Reference for Health Professionals (CPS) is widely used by Canadian Health Care Professionals.
In it’s section for patient teaching, it uses the above Supplementary Information Booklet which states the BCP works in two ways.
In it’s section for Health Care Professionals, some BCPs mention at least four mechanisms, while others state the above two mechanisms, and only infer others. Thus, there is no standard presentation of this information.
If life begins at conception, then inhibiting implantation is comparable to abortion. Incomplete information is being spread out to the public and professionals.
We need to be honest to our Christian commuinity whom we love. We need to be aware of these abortifacient effects to make informed decisions, so we do not intentionally or unintentionally sin against God.
Some claim there is no abortifacient proof. We, among others, believe the evidence is clear. Until it is proved OCs are non-abortifacient, we strongly recommend abstaining from their use. At a minimum, our people need to be informed. Christian leaders bear the responsibility to inform them. This is our biblical and moral injunction.