The Pill

iStock_000002097725SmallBirth control pills, Depo-provera injections and Norplant implants achieve their anti-fertility effects primarily by causing temporary sterilization, secondarily by causing abortion by preventing the approximately week old human from successfully attaching or “implanting” into the wall of the mother’s womb, and thirdly by acting as a contraceptive barrier to sperm by thickening the cervical mucus. That these drugs promoted as contraceptives may really cause abortion has not been clear to many Americans for whom abortion presents serious moral questions.

Background of the pill

Gregory Pincus, co-developer of the pill, credits a visit from Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger who promised research money for the development of the pill. (i)

Sanger, who supported abortion, was concerned about developing a pill as a means of curbing the “population explosion.” (ii)

Like Sanger, pill supporters who shared Sanger’s demographic concerns, such as Dr. Robert Kistner of Harvard, were less concerned about means than ends: “Our efforts to control population growth should not lead to mass guilt about methodology. It would be tragic if an effective postcoital pill or long-term progestational agent were declared illegal because of its abortifacient effect.” (iii)

Conflict of values: Guilt would be a problem for some

In 1962, Dr. Mary Calderone, then medical director of Planned Parenthood said, “if it turns out that these intrauterine devices operate as abortifacients, not only the Catholic Church will be against them, but Protestant churches as well.”(iv)

Legal problems existed because the language of pre-Roe anti-abortion laws was such that the “broad language of statutes and cases would suggest that to use pre-implantation means on a pregnant woman would be unlawful … manufacturers, distributors or sellers of the pre-implantation means might be prosecuted under statutes prohibiting the manufacture, distribution or sale of abortifacients.” (v)

Technology meets biology

Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Abraham Stone noted in 1952 that any mechanical, chemical or “… biologic [sic] method that would prevent ovulation or fertilization merely prevent life from beginning … Measures designed to prevent implantation fall into a different category. Here there is a question of destroying a life already begun.” (vi)

The federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare also acknowledged this in a survey of birth control research: “All of the measures which impair the viability of the zygote at any time between the instant of fertilization and the completion of labor constitute, in the strict sense, procedures for inducing abortion. Administration of compounds whose mechanism of action is of this character to man either as an investigative procedure or as a practical birth control technique poses legal questions that have as yet not been resolved.” (vii)

The problem was that most of the promising research included anti-implantation or abortion causing actions. (viii)

Facts vs. Semantics

With biology such a stubborn thing, pill promoters turned to semantics for a solution. Swedish researcher Bent Boving, at a 1959 Planned Parenthood/Population Council symposium, noted that: “Whether eventual control of implantation can be reserved the social advantage of being considered to prevent conception rather than to destroy an established pregnancy could depend upon something so simple as a prudent habit of speech.”( ix)

The advice was not isolated. At the 1964 Population Council symposium, Dr. Samuel Wishik pointed out that acceptance or rejection of birth control would depend on whether it caused an early abortion. Dr. Tietze, of Planned Parenthood and the Population Council suggested, as a public relations ploy, “not to disturb those people for whom this is a question of major importance.” Tietze added that theologians and jurists have always taken the prevailing biological and medical consensus of their times as factual, and that “if a medical consensus develops and is maintained that pregnancy, and therefore life, begins at implantation, eventually our brethren from the other faculties will listen.” (x)

In 1965, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) responded with its own semantic answer: “CONCEPTION is the implantation of the fertilized ovum.” (xi)

Not everyone accepted these manipulations. Dr. Richard Sosnowski said he was troubled: “… that, with no scientific evidence to validate the change, the definition of conception as the successful spermatic penetration of an ovum was redefined as the implantation of a fertilized ovum. It appears to me that the only reason for this was the dilemma produced by the possibility that the intrauterine contraceptive device might function as an abortifacient.” (xii)

The pill & abortion

The federal Food and Drug Administration approved the pill for limited use in 1960. First generation pills allowed ovulation in 6.8% of menstrual cycles. (xiii)

Because of health problems, the pill’s high levels of estrogen were reduced, but less estrogen allows greater breakthrough ovulation.

After much study, a 1969 FDA Advisory Committee said the pill’s “high degree of contraceptive effectiveness [was] brought about through interference with several phases of the reproductive process. An influence on the hypothalamus … is probably responsible for the … inhibition of ovulation. … The second major effect is on the endometrium. The progestin acts as an antiestrogen causing alteration in endometrial glands and as a progestin, causing pseudodecidual reactions. Both of these alter the ability of the endometrium to participate in the process of implantation.” (Emphasis added.) Longtime Planned Parenthood associate Dr. Lewis Hellman chaired the advisory committee, and Dr. Christopher Tietze of Planned Parenthood and the Population Council was a committee member along with other Planned Parenthood members. (xiv)

And former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher is also on record as recognizing the triple mode of action for the pill. (xv)

Pill labeling

In December 1976, the federal FDA proposed mandatory patient package inserts accompany all pill prescriptions: “The Food and Drug Administration will regard as misbranded and subject to regulatory action any oral contraceptive that is shipped in interstate commerce … after April 6, 1977 without labeling that is substantially the same as set forth in this notice.” Thus, the FDA required pill manufacturers to tell physicians that the pill included a mode of action that every physician would understand from his medical training to be an early abortion: “Combination oral contraceptives … Although the primary mechanism of action is inhibition of ovulation, alterations … in the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation) may also contribute to contraceptive effectiveness … progestin oral contraceptives are known to … exert a progestational effect on the endometrium, interfering with implantation, and, in some patients suppress ovulation.” (xvi)

Physician package inserts for the pill are still required in 1998, and they still use language that indicates the pill, Depo-provera and Norplant inhibit implantation. These chemicals alter the lining of the womb (uterus) creating a hostile environment and thus make it harder for the tiny multicelled human being to implant in the wall of the womb. This constitutes abortion at approximately one week of life. There is no definitive medical agreement as to what percent of monthly cycles this occurs.

We, the undersigned physicians, do therefore declare that the pill and similar birth control products act, part of the time, by design, to prevent implantation of an already created human being. These products clearly cause an early abortion and are – despite the semantic gymnastics of their ardent apologists – abortifacient.

We further declare that the so-called emergency contraceptive products being promulgated on the American people work in the same fashion and are also abortifacient.

Click here to see updated list of physician endorsements.


i. Gregory Pincus, The      Control of Fertility, Academic Press, New York, 1965, p. 6; Planned      Parenthood Federation of America, Research Facilities, Activities and Accomplishments, memo, 1/20/53, Margaret Sanger Collection, Library of  Congress
ii. Margaret Sanger, Family Limitation, 1st ed., 1914, 15-16, Margaret Sanger Collection, Library of  Congress (MSCLC); Sanger Speech, Washington DC, (MSCLC) speech was first      given in 1916 and delivered 119 times; letter from Sanger to Hanna Stone,      3/10/32 copy to Marjorie Provost (Sanger’s handwriting) Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College
iii. Robert W. Kistner, MD,  The Pill, Delacourt Press, 1969, p. 248.
iv. Dr. Mary Calderone,  discussion, Mechanisms of Contraceptive Action,” in Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices: Proceedings of the Conference, held April 30-May 1, 1962, New York City, ed. C. Tietze and S. Lewitt, published by Excerpta Medica Foundation, 110.
v. Sybil Meloy, “Pre-Implantation Fertility Control and the Abortion Law,” Chicago- Kent Law Review, vol. 41 (1964): 183, 205-06. Planned Parenthood      recognized in its amicus brief for Roe v. Wade that criminal abortion laws could be applied to the IUD because of its potential to prevent      implantation. PPFA its physician group (APPP) Amicus brief on page 44 cited Cybil Meloy, and also said that prosecutors had not used state      anti-abortion laws to outlaw the use of IUD’s.
vi. Abraham Stone, M.D., “Research in Contraception: A Review and Preview,” presented at      the Third International Conference of Planned Parenthood, Bombay, India Report of the Proceedings, November 24-29, 1952, no copyright, Family Planning Association of India, 101
vii. A Survey of Research on Reproduction Related to Birth and Population Control (as of January 1, 1963) US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, page 27.
viii. Memo to Dr. Drill from Dr. Saunders, re: “Effects of Drugs on Mating in Rats,” 12/9/54, Gregory Pincus Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress; Abraham Stone, The Control of Fertility, Scientific American, April, 1954, vol. 190., no. 4, 31-33.
ix. Bent Boving, Implantation Mechanisms,” in Mechanisms Concerned with Conception, ed. C. G. Hartman (New York: Pergamon Press, 1963), 386. Boving acknowledged (p. 321): “… the greatest pregnancy wastage, in fact, by far the highest death rate of the entire human life span, is during the week before and including the beginning of implantation, and the next greatest is in the week immediately following.”
x. Proceedings of the Second International Conference, Intra-Uterine Contraception, held October 2-3, 1964, New York City, ed. Sheldon Segal, et al.., International Series, Excerpta Medica Foundation,  No. 86, page 212.
xi. ACOG Terminology Bulletin, Terms Used in Reference to the Fetus, Chicago, American College of Obstetrics ad Gynecology, No. 1, September 1965.
xii. Dr. Richard Sosnowski, head of the Southern Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “The Pursuit of Excellence: Have We Apprehended and Comprehended It?” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 150. No. 2 (September 15, 1984) 117.
xiii. Joseph Rovinsky, MD, “Clinical Effectiveness of a Low Dose Progestin-Estrogen Combination,” Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 23, no. 6, June, 1964, p. 845, citing Goldzieher at al., JAMA, 180:359, 1962 “In 6.8 percent of menstrual cycles they have studied on patients on norethindrone medication, urinary pregnanediol excretion reached levels ordinarily found only in the postovulatory phase of a normal menstrual cycle.”
xiv. Advisory Committee on Obstetrics and Gynecology, Food and Drug Administration, 1969, Second Report on the Oral Contraceptives, 8/1/69, “Report of the Task Force on Biologic Effects,” Philip Corfman, NIH, Chairman, app. 4, page 69.
xv. Alan F. Guttmacher, MD, “Prevention of Conception Through Contraception and Sterilization,” Gynecology and Obstetrics, vol. 1, ch. 22n, December, 1966, p. 8.
xvi. Fed. Register Vol. 41, No. 236, Tuesday, December 7, 1976, 53634
From American Life League,

Side Effects


  • Cerebral hemorrhage -bleeding into the cranial cavity (7,8)
  • Cerebral thrombosis – blood clot that drains blood from the brain (7,8)
  • Melasma, which may persist -skin discoloration; usually dark, irregular patches (7,8)
  • Migraine (4,7)
  • Headache (4,7,8)
  • Dizziness (7,8)
  • Loss of scalp hair (7,8)
  • Acne (4,7,8)


  • Retinal thrombosis – blockage of the central retinal vein that carries blood away from the eye (7,8)
  • Change in corneal curvature -steepening of the cornea (7,8)
  • Intolerance to contact lenses (7,8)
  • Cataracts (7,8)


  • Thrombophlebitis and venous thrombosis with or without embolism – blood clots in the veins (4,7,8)
  • Hypertension – high blood pressure (7,8)
  • Mesenteric thrombosis – blood clot in the major veins that drain blood from the intestine (7,8)
  • Hemorrhagic eruption – bleeding eruption (7,8)
  • Arterial thromboembolism – blood clots in the heart (7,8)
  • Pulmonary embolism – arterial blockage, usually from a blood clot, that cuts off one lung’s blood supply (7,8)
  • Myocardial infarction – heart attack (7,8)
  • Budd-Chiari Syndrome -closing of the veins that carry deoxygenated blood from the lower half of      the body into the heart (7,8)
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome – kidney failure and low platelet count in the blood (7,8)


  • Mental depression (4,7,8)
  • Nervousness (7,8)

Whole Body

  • Changes in libido – usually decreased libido (4,7,8)
  • Edema – increased fluid and  subsequent pressure within an organ (7,8)
  • Change in weight – increase or decrease (7,8)
  • Rash – allergic reaction (7,8)
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome (7,8)
  • Hirsutism – excessive hair growth in places where hair normally is minimal or absent (7,8)
  • Erythema multiforme -allergic reaction (7,8)
  • Erythema nodosum – skin inflammation (7,8)
  • Porphyria – disease that can manifest itself as anything from acute mania, including hallucinations, to constipation and skin rashes (4,7,8)
  • Bone loss (2)
  • Cancer – breast, uterine and      vaginal (4)


  • Gallbladder disease – bile duct stones (4,7,8)
  • Hepatic adenomas or benign liver tumors (7,8)
  • Nausea (7,8)
  • Vomiting (7,8)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms – such as abdominal cramps and bloating (7,8)
  • Cholestatic jaundice -jaundice caused by thickened bile (4,7,8)
  • Reduced tolerance to carbohydrates (7,8)
  • Changes in appetite (7,8)
  • Impaired renal function – impaired kidney function (7,8)
  • Colitis – digestive disease characterized by inflammation of the colon (7,8)
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome -kidney failure and low platelet count in the blood (7,8)


  • Typical use of combined oral contraceptive pills prevents a diagnosed pregnancy in only 90 to 96 percent of women, which means that four to 10 women out of every 100 using      the pill for one year will have a diagnosed pregnancy. (4,6,10)
  • The pill’s third mechanism is      to change the lining of the endometrium (the lining of the womb), which      creates a hostile environment for a newly created human being. The tiny      baby cannot implant and is spontaneously aborted by the body.      (4,5,6,11,12)
  • As quoted in the booklet, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? by Randy Alcorn, a representative      of the Ortho-McNeil pharmaceutical company said, “If you end up with      a fertilized egg [new human being], it [the baby boy or girl] won’t      implant and grow because of the less hospitable endometrium.” 1
  • It seems unlikely that      implantation would be possible in the altered endometrium developed under      the influence of most of the suppressants [of ovulation].” (3)
  • Ectopic pregnancy (4)
  • Drugs that are known to interact with the pill to cause an increased likelihood of pregnancy:Certain drugs used in the treatment of HIV or AIDS (7,8)
    • Rifampin( 7,8)
    • Drugs used for epilepsy, such as barbiturates (7,8)
    • Phenobarbital – anticonvulsant; can also be used as anti-anxiety medication (7,8)
    • Topiramate – TOPAMAX® (7,8); prescribed for migraines and, in higher doses, for Chiari patients)
    • Carbamazepine (Tegretol® (7,8) is one brand; anticonvulsant medication)
    • Phenytoin (Dilantin® ( 7,8) is one brand; anti-seizure medication)
    • Phenylbutazone (Butazolidin®  (7,8) is one brand; nonsteroid, anti-inflammatory medication)
    • Certain antibiotics (7,8)
    • St. John’s wort (7,8)

Impact on Reproductive Organs

  • Breakthrough bleeding (4,7,8)
  • Spotting (4,7,8)
  • Change in menstrual flow (4,7,8)
  • Amenorrhea – absence of menstrual periods (7,8)
  • Temporary infertility after discontinuation of treatment (4,7,8)
  • Breast changes: tenderness, enlargement, secretion (7,8)
  • Change in cervical erosion and secretion (7,8)
  • Decrease in lactation when given immediately postpartum (7,8)
  • Vaginal candidiasis – yeast infection (4,7,8)
  • Cystitis-like syndrome – frequent urination, sometimes with a painful bladder (7,8)
  • Vaginitis (inflammation of the vaginal area, often associated with irritation, itching or infection) 4,7,8
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (4)
  • Cancer – breast, uterine and vaginal (4)
  • Endometriosis (4)


  • Researchers have found that caged adult trout exposed to ethynylestradiol, a synthetic estrogen, were half as fertile as fish kept in clean water. The trout were exposed to the estrogen for two months, and then bred with a healthy female. (13)
  • Doug Myers, a wetlands and habitat specialist for the Puget Sound Action Team, said that scientists are “finding the presence of female hormones making the male species less male” in frogs, river otters and fish. (5,13)
  • “Scientists in western Washington found that synthetic estrogen – a common ingredient in oral contraceptives – drastically reduces the fertility of male rainbow      trout.” (5)
  • After randomly netting 123 trout downstream from a Boulder Creek sewer treatment facility, including 101 female trout, 12 male trout and 10 “intersex” trout (having      both male and female traits), scientists in Colorado discovered that “estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches” caused the fish’s genetic alteration. (5)


  • A couple taking the pill: “Hence to use this divine gift [the sexual act] while depriving it [taking contraception], even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will.”(9)


  • Depression (7,8)
  • Changes in libido – usually decreased libido (4,7,8)
  • Ways in which the pill destroys relationships:
    • It easily opens the door for marital infidelity;
    • it especially opens the door for temptation to youth;
    • “a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and… reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”9

Related Links:

1 Randy Alcorn, Does the      Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? (Gresham, OR: Eternal Perspective  Ministries, 1998) 29-30 (online condensation by Randy Alcorn; accessed      April 14, 2008).
2 O.S. Tang et al., “Long-term depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate and bone mineral density,” Contraception 59 (1999): 351-355.
3 A.G. Gilman et al., eds., Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 8th ed. (New York, NY: Pergamon Press, 1990), 1405
4 Bogomir M.Kuhar, PharmD, FASCP, Infant Homicides through Contraceptives, 5th ed. (Bardstown, KY: Eternal Life, 2003).
5 Wayne Laugesen,”Contracepting the environment- Birth-control poisoning of streams leave U.S. environmentalists mum,” National Catholic Register, July 11, 2007, (accessed April 13, 2008).
6 MICROMEDEX? (online collection of drug databases available only to medical professionals), (Depo-Provera Monograph, Vol. 85, 1995).
7 Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., patient package insert: “Ortho Tri-Cyclen?/Ortho-Cyclen? Tablets (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol), (Manati, Puerto Rico: Janssen Ortho, LLC, July 2007), (accessed April 13, 2008).
8 Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., patient package insert: “Ortho Tri-Cyclen? Lo Tablets,” (Raritan, New Jersey: Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., June 2004), (accessed April 13, 2008).
9 Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, Vatican: The Holy See, July 25, 1968, (accessed April 13, 2008).
10 Ralf Rahwan, Chemical Contraceptives, Interceptives and Abortifacients (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmacology, 1995).
11 S.G. Somkuti et al., “The effect of oral contraceptive pills on markers of endometrial receptivity,” Fertility and Sterility 65, no. 3 (March 1996): 484-488.
12 Walter L. Larimore, MD and Joseph B. Stanford, MD, MSPH, “Postfertilization Effects of Oral Contraceptives and Their Relationship to Informed Consent,” Archives of Family Medicine 9 (2000):126-133, (accessed April 14, 2008).
13 Lisa Stiffler, “Birth control may be harming state’s salmon: Synthetic estrogen in water seems to affect reproduction,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 4, 2003 (accessed April 13, 2008).
From American Life League,

Co-Inventor Of Birth Control Pill Now Calls It ‘A Catastrophe’

By Susan Brinkmann, For The Bulletin
Published: Friday, January 9, 2009

A co-inventor of the birth control pill, Austrian chemist Carl Djerassi, now says his creation has led to a “demographic catastrophe.”

In a personal commentary published in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Mr. Djerassi, 85, said that in most of Europe there was now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.” He said: “This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete.”

He described families who decided to use the pill rather than reproduce as “wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it.”

Mr. Djerassi called the subsequent declining birth rate an “epidemic” far worse, but given much less attention, than obesity. He said young Austrians were committing “national suicide” if they failed to procreate.

He said “intelligent immigration” policies would be the only other alternative, and must “at least be part of the solution.”

Mr. Djerassi was one of three scientists whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward development of the earliest oral contraceptive pill. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the head of Austrian Catholics, reminded the press that the much maligned encyclical forbidding the use of artificial contraception, Humanae Vitae, warned the world 40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the West.

“Somebody above suspicion … is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we’re far away from that,” he said.

Cardinal Schonborn said when he first read Humanae Vitae he viewed it negatively as a “cold shower.” However, his views were altered over time as the document proved to be “prophetic.”

Copyright © 2009 – The Bulletin

Related Links:
Austin woman claims birth control nearly killed her

A Raging Controversy you may know nothing about,

Study Finds Injectable Contraceptive Leads To Obesity

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