Anniversary of assent of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act

Baby holding handToday marks the 37th anniversary of the assent of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act.

On this day in 1977 our parliamentarians made law the “how to” of destroying innocent preborn children in their mothers wombs.

The Act also put forward regulations regarding contraception and sterilisation.

Shockingly females who have disabilities are at the mercy of their parents, caregivers or medical practitioner as to what they believe to be “best” for her.  It is plausible that a medical practitioner may insert an IUD or implant such as Jadelle without parental knowledge, in the course of treating her.  There is nothing in the Act to stop this from happening.  In fact they would be protected from criminal and civil responsibility.

The Act came into effect in two parts:  1 January 1978 and 1 April 1978.  It goes hand in hand with the Crimes Act, which details the reasons a woman can have an abortion and the ages her child in the womb can legally be killed.

This anniversary will largely go unnoticed by most in New Zealand.  Abortion, contraception and sterilisation have become common place in our society today.  But the Act is an important part of our history.  It is also a big black mark that tarnishes our willingness to protect all human life from its very beginning.  Access to abortion, contraception and sterilisation does not give women freedom over their bodies, rather it enslaves them to a lie – a lie which says women are not strong, that motherhood is a curse to be denied and avoided at all costs.

But motherhood is a woman’s strength!  Through motherhood, we women get to shape the world!

Yes, today is a sad day in New Zealand history.  But there is hope.  There are many who are rejecting the culture of death and embracing life.  There are many younger women rejecting the old feminism and embracing motherhood.

The day will come when true freedom will flourish!

Egg freezing: A work benefit?

Two leading technology companies, Apple and Facebook, are funding their workers or ‘partners’ to have their eggs frozen for future IVF. This is already covered by Facebook’s employee benefit plan, and Apple plans to introduce it in the 2015. Both companies will be offering a US$20 000 benefit for reproductive technologies including egg freezing, surrogacy and IVF.

These companies have been accused of offering egg freezing so female employees can focus on their work and leave the family until later. That’s certainly how many are seeing this move, including some who think it’s a good thing, as well as those who see it as exploitation. This is still a problem from the career point of view. After the age of 35, the success of using frozen eggs drops. And that’s still well before most careers peak.

But that is the least of the problems. Egg freezing will invariably lead to IVF, and IVF is very wasteful on human life. With current success rates, less than ten percent of embryos that are created survive to birth. Those that do survive suffer higher rates of abnormalities than children conceived naturally.

The process of egg freezing as a ‘benefit’ is a troubling development in modern parenting. It changes the attitudes and motivations of parenting. Children normally come from the loving embrace of their parents. This physical act of love causes a child to be born from love of their parents. With frozen eggs these babies start life in a plastic dish after a commercial transaction. And increasingly these babies are being born to people who aren’t their biological parents. So children will be seen less as a gift, and more as a product or a right. Either way the child becomes a means to an ends, with parental satisfaction becoming more important than respecting the dignity and rights of the child.

One fertility expert expects egg freezing to become standard for professional women. At US$10 000 to US$13 000 a time and US$500 a year for storage it could be a lucrative business. However, fertility experts recommend freezing at least 18 eggs. It might require two or more egg retrievals to collect that many eggs. For egg collection, the woman undergoes weeks of hormone injections followed by an invasive procedure to remove her eggs, many more than she would naturally release. This is risky for the women. So the temptation will be to try maximise the number of eggs from a single retrieval, which increases the risk of this potentially dangerous and invasive procedure. When a woman chooses to use frozen eggs, she will find that her choice of family size is greatly restricted. She might only have enough eggs stored to have one or possibly two children. The option to have more children later is probably gone. So egg freezing can become a family planning program too. Effectively a one or two child policy.

These companies also cover surrogacy too. So reproduction risks becoming something that professional women contract out. This is because by the time most careers are hitting their peak, a woman’s fertility has dropped to the point her chances of having a baby survive IVF are very low without a younger surrogate mother.

So Apple and Facebook’s ‘benefits’, substantially change family and parenting. Little regard is held for the lives of the children before birth. They become just another item on the ‘bucket list’. The link between the love of parents and the love of the child is removed and little regard is held for the life of the child before implantation.

And they call this a benefit?

Abortion and pre abortion visits

When the topic of liberalising abortion comes up, as it has recently, invariably there is talk about “increasing access” and reducing the number of visits required before a woman can have an abortion.

New Zealand law stipulates that the woman seeking an abortion must see two certifying consultants. Sometimes this can happen in one visit. Beyond this the law doesn’t specify anything about visits and appointments, but there is the need for a few more visits and procedures. The Abortion Supervisory Committee does have medical recommendations, but the extra visits and procedures are there more for medical reasons than legal.

Abortion providers generally want some basic tests done, and some information about when the woman became pregnant. This is important because different abortion procedures can only be used in some stages of pregnancy.

They want to know if there is an active sexually transmitted infection, as this can cause complications including chronic pelvic pain, infertility and increase risk of future ectopic pregnancy. One study of women presenting for an abortion found chlamydia at a rate of nearly 19% in one population group. Clearly it’s important to test and wait for the results before risking invasive surgery and all the risks of infection that can result.

One requirement that is very controversial overseas is ultrasound. There are some good reasons why it’s appropriate to do an ultrasound before an abortion. The first reason is to confirm that it’s a normal pregnancy, and not an ectopic or molar pregnancy. The recent case of “Dr N” highlights the risks or forgoing the ultrasound. She facilitated several of her patients to have medical abortions by providing the medication outside New Zealand’s current legal framework. One of these women had an ectopic pregnancy, which was not ended by the medical abortion. Later this patient was admitted to hospital for treatment due to a ruptured fallopian tube. Her outcome could have been much worse.

Ultrasound can confirm if the unborn child is healthy likely to survive to birth. There is an appreciable miscarriage rate in early pregnancy, and sometimes an ultrasound can predict a miscarriage before it happens. Clearly in these cases there is no need for the woman to be exposed to the additional trauma of an abortion. I’ve also heard that many women who have made up their mind to have an abortion, and then cry when they hear the news that their child has died, or will soon die.

An increasingly important feature of ultrasound is the ability to accurately estimate the age of the preborn baby. Many women are using forms of contraception that disrupt the normal menstrual cycle, which can make dating an unexpected pregnancy more difficult. The gestational age of the child is important information for abortion providers, as different methods of abortion are used as the gestational age of the child increases.

Blood tests are normally required. These indicate the health of the mother, and her rhesus blood group. If the mother is rhesus negative, and the baby is rhesus positive, after the abortion the mother may produce antibodies which could cause rhesus disease in her future babies. This can easily be prevented by an injection of ‘anti-D’ at the time of the abortion.

And then there is counselling. The Abortion Supervisory Committee strongly recommends counselling for all women wanting an abortion, both before and after abortion. This is universally optional, despite the growing evidence that abortion is harmful to a woman’s mental health.

It’s clear that the extra visits for a woman wanting an abortion in New Zealand are not because of some pro-life conspiracy, but are all justified on medical and evidence based grounds. They are certainly not hoops to be gotten through. They are there to protect the health of the woman and her future children.

But how much more could we protect women and children if we recognised the harm abortion does to them, and supported them in pregnancy and beyond? Then no unexpected pregnancy would be a crisis pregnancy, and every child could be born into a society which loves and affirms them.

The heart of a mother: bearing witness to a child’s life

Mother and childThinking about Mother’s Day had me looking at quotes about motherhood.  I came across a huge number of beautifully illustrated thoughts from various people.  But then, then there was this…

“Was it the act of giving birth that made you a mother? Did you lose that label when you relinquished your child? If people were measured by their deeds, on the one hand, I had a woman who had chosen to give me up; on the other, I had a woman who’d sat up with me at night when I was sick as a child, who’d cried with me over boyfriends, who’d clapped fiercely at my law school graduation. Which acts made you more of a mother?

Both, I realized. Being a parent wasn’t just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life.” 
― Jodi PicoultHandle with Care

This beautiful quote made me think about motherhood and adoption and bearing witness to a child’s life.

Adoption is one of the most beautiful, heroic, selfless acts a mother can make for her child when circumstances mean that she is unable to provide all that her baby needs at that time.

The agonies that she must face, and the fear of what must come when she hands the child she has nurtured in her womb to the waiting arms of adoptive parents must defy words.

But at the same time, the peace she must feel, knowing that she has, and still does, love this child beyond measure must give her hope.

Placing her child for adoption, does not make her any less a mother.  Indeed, she has displayed a great act of selflessness, loving her child more than herself.  Loving, nurturing and protecting her child from it’s very first existence.  And this is what a mother does.

She chooses life for her child, despite enormous obstacles, pressures and fears.  She chooses life for her child over and above her own wants and desires.

A birth mother bears witness to her child’s life when at its most vulnerable, most defenseless.

And the adoptive parents, lovingly chosen by the birth mother (and possibly birth father), gladly receive this new responsibility of parenthood.  All their hopes and dreams of loving beyond themselves becomes a reality and they love this child unconditionally.  They understand the gift of life and they bear witness to it.

Today I want to acknowledge all mothers, including birth mothers and adoptive mothers.  You are amazing, selfless women who know life’s greatest joys and sorrows.  But above all you know how to love.  You are nurturers, you are protectors and you bear witness to the preciousness of all human life.

Thank you.

 

 

 

The Pope praises Humanae Vitae

ImageEarly this week an interview of Pope Francis was run by a major Italian newspaper. As is typical with Pope Francis, he is relaxed with the media, and shows a great deal of skill and honesty with his answers. He’s not afraid of the tough questions, and says he even welcomes them when it’s a chance for dialogue.

The interview didn’t avoid any tough questions, it covered the sexual abuse scandal, divorce, remarriage and civil unions, globalisation, Marxism and many other topics.

He also touched on several topics of interest to the pro-life movement, including contraception, and end of life treatment.

He was asked on non-negotiable values, he was adamant that these values are essential. He rejected the idea that these values are like trading cards, which can be swapped and traded, while keeping a few favourites. He compares these ‘values’ to parts of his own body. In his own words:

I never understood the expression “non-negotiable values.” Values are values and that’s that. I can’t say which of the fingers of the hand is more useful than the rest, so I don’t understand in what sense there could be negotiable values. What I had to say on the topic of life I have put in writing in “Evangelii Gaudium.”

The Pope expresses much about values and morals in Evangelii Gaudium. He says that individual doctrines of the Church must be understood as part of the gospel, and joyfully expressed. This links these values to the whole of the Church’s teaching and to the person of Christ himself. So these ‘values’ are no longer dry doctrines, but a living, breathing expression of a Christian’s joyful faith.

The Pope praised Humanae Vitae:

It all depends on how the text of “Humanae Vitae” is interpreted. Paul VI himself, towards the end, recommended to confessors much mercy and attention to concrete situations. But his genius was prophetic, as he had the courage to go against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to apply a cultural brake, to oppose present and future neo-Malthusianism.

Pope PauI VI certainly had the courage to go against the majority. With more than 40 years of experience with contraception, it’s now obvious the damage that it’s causes. When Paul VI wrote Humanae vitae, that damage was much less obvious. But the Pope predicted it accurately. And despite this bold and prophetic proclamation of the truth, document is very gently written, with the heart of a pastor. I think it’s this that resonates with Pope Francis.

Pope Francis reminds us of the need for confessors to show “much mercy and attention to concrete situations”. This is reminiscent of the much misrepresented comments of Benedict XVI on condoms. It’s not a dilution of the teaching, but working with people to bring them to a full understanding of the truth. In many cases, it will not be an instant conversion. We don’t need to change any teaching or approve of any sin.

Pope Francis is also asked about end of life care for the people in a ‘vegetative state’. The Pope reiterated the Church’s teaching on end of life care. He also acknowledged that he isn’t a bioethicist, and the need for palliative care.

In these answers, Pope Francis has demonstrated that he is a “son of the Church”. He follows and protects the doctrines of the Church, but more than that, he wants to show us that they all come from the person of Christ. He wants to make these doctrines or ‘values’ make sense and have a meaning and purpose in the faith of the Christian.

And one year on into his Papacy, the world is still watching and taking notice. Let’s hope that they truly hear the message he preaches.

The things we don’t know…

As I have been reviewing the literature related to life issues, one thing has struck me, how much we don’t know.

Here I’m primarily talking about how ‘contraceptives’ work. And it is concerning just how comfortable people, especially pro-abortion people are in using and advocating the use of contraceptives when some of the key pieces knowledge of them is missing.

Some things are easy to study in contraception. Ovulation isn’t hard to detect. It can be inferred from analysing a woman’s hormones over time, or it can be observed directly by ultrasound. However, many modern ‘contraceptives’ aren’t effective in inhibiting ovulation. And some don’t inhibit it at all.

Once ovulation occurs, so called ‘contraceptives’ have several mechanisms to pregnancy or birth.

Many cite the changes to the cervical mucus as a major mode of action. The pill and the morning after pill both cite this as one of their mechanisms of action. The evidence for the morning after pill is weak. Where changes are found, although the changes are substantial, the effects were not absolute. Unlike inhibiting ovulation, the effect causes a reduction in fertility, not a complete absence.

Hormonal methods with synthetic progestins (the pill, the morning after pill and some IUDs) can affect the transport in the fallopian tube. If it’s gametes, the effect is contraceptive. If the transport of the embryo is affected, the effect is likely to be abortifacient.

There are a number of other effects on male gametes that are contraceptive, but no one knows what contribution these have to the contraceptive effect. At best they would only seem to cause a reduction of fertility.

The final effect is the endometrium becoming unreceptive to a human embryo. This causes early abortions. The human embryo is a new human being. He or she is genetically different from his or her mother, and clearly and individual human in their own right.

The language used by drug companies to describe this abortifacient affect is often obscure. One example is “the endometrium is rendered unreceptive to implantation” or even as obscure as, “controlling the monthly development of the womb lining so that it is not thick enough for you to become pregnant”. Some organisations have redefined pregnancy to only start after implantation, and refuse to use the word ‘abortion’ before then, even when it most clearly describes the death of these tiny human beings. This definition is one of semantics. All of the people who use that definition existed before they were implanted in their mother’s womb.

But how often do the synthetic hormones in contraceptives cause these early abortions? The answer is that we just don’t know. There are some ways to find out, but no one is doing that research, or if they are, they aren’t publishing it. Does the mini pill cause early abortions in 50% of cycles, or in only 1%? We just don’t know. And most women using these medicines and devices have no idea that they can cause early abortions.

Many of them would be concerned if it was clearly explained to them. But the companies who sell these medicines and devices jump through linguistic loops to make sure you can read their information, and not realise it causes early abortions, unless you know exactly the language to look for.

When a women is taking these synthetic chemicals, she has no idea of how they work on any given cycle. And thanks to the deliberately vague manufacturer information, she may have no idea that they can kill tiny humans before implantation. This isn’t empowerment. It’s exploitation.

It a just world, the exact modes of action of these synthetic chemicals would researched, quantified, published and then clearly explained to the users.

And in a truly grace filled world, we would all use the women friendly methods of Natural Fertility Regulation if we needed to avoid pregnancy.

NuvaRing – dying for contraception

Last year the ministry of health has approved a ‘new’ contraceptive device. Although it’s new to New Zealand, but has been around in the United States and Europe for more than 10 years, so we already know a lot about it. NuvaRing is a vaginal ring, designed to be ‘worn’ inside a women’s body for 3 weeks of the month. It contains the same type of chemicals that are found in the combined oral contraceptive pill. Being a device rather than a pill, it’s designed to deliver a constant low dose of hormones directly to the reproductive organs. There are two reasons for this. The first being convenience, not having to take a pill every day. And the second being to lower the concentrations of the synthetic hormones in the ‘contraceptive’. This is an attempt to reduce the side effects of these synthetic hormones.

These are major problems for hormonal contraceptives. More than half of oral contraceptive users stop taking the pill within 6 months, with side effects being a significant reason. So manufacturers are looking for ways to make lower dose contraceptives to reduce the side effects. And they are significant. For NuvaRing, the list of common side effects (>1/100 women) is long and disturbing.

Common Side effects:

Acne,

headache

migraine

depression

libido decreased

abdominal pain

nausea

toothache

weight gain

medical device discomfort

device expelled

breast tenderness

dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)

pelvic pain

vaginal discharge

genital pruritus female (itch)

vaginal infection

bronchitis

coughing

pharyngitis

rhinitis

sinusitis

Upper respiratory tract infection

allergic reaction

fever

influenza-like symptoms

That’s a lot for a women to have to put up with, especially since this medical device isn’t designed to treat any disease. The promoters of contraceptives typically balance their side effects against medical problems that can occur during pregnancy. This is a false comparison. It a women stops using one form of birth control, she often moves to a different method of birth control. As NuvaRing doesn’t treat a disease, this is really just another ‘lifestyle’ product, and it’s side effects should be compared to non-therapeutic products, not lifesaving medications.  I can’t imagine people putting up with a consumer product where large numbers of users stop using it after 6 months due to it causing medical problems. And that is exactly the case we have here. NuvaRing is a consumer product. Fertility is not a disease, and sex isn’t compulsory.

If a smartphone caused acne in some users, it would be withdrawn from the market. If a TV caused abdominal pain in 1% or more users, it would be redesigned to be safe. But because it’s a medicine to ‘treat’ the healthy state of fertility, we seem to be ok with the damage it causes.

But it’s one of the less common side effects that is really disturbing:- death.

Users of NuvaRing are six and half times more likely to suffer venous thrombosis (blood clots) than women who don’t use hormonal contraception. And venous thrombosis can be fatal. Even for those it doesn’t kill, it’s a serious medical event that leaves some of the survivors with ongoing health problems. Women using NuvaRing have died from blood clots. In the United States 2000 women have filed a NuvaRing lawsuit, and the FDA have received 5 500 reports of complications. This is unacceptable.

The makers of NuvaRing have attracted a lot of criticism because of their attempts supress information about the more troubling side effects. Hundreds of millions of dollars in profits are involved. Promoting NuvaRing is in the manufacturer’s best interests, it’s not in the best interested of women.

But there is an alternative. There is one form of birth control that doesn’t have any side effects. It doesn’t have a major corporation promoting it, so you might not have ever seen it promoted as a real option. It’s Natural Fertility Regulation. Not only is it free from side effects, it’s easy to learn, very effective, strengthens marriages, and empowers a woman with knowledge to take charge of her own fertility. It can also be used achieve a pregnancy. Isn’t it time you found out about it?