Does the Pill Cause Abortion?

You may already know this, but it was news to me.  The video, 28 Days on the Pill, outlines how the pill works to  “usually” prevent ovulation, and thicken cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to reach the egg (if ovulation has occurred). According to the Christian producers of this film, the third way the pill works has been less talked about and can cause “embryonic abortion.” How?

If the woman ovulates, and the sperm does make it to the egg, conception occurs.  But the pill also makes the uterine wall become thinner, which can hinder implantation. And if the embryo cannot implant and dies, that means it’s aborted.

Some docs say the pill’s primary effect is inhibiting ovulation, and the bulk of the evidence says it does not affect implantation. Others say that if the woman ovulates, the uterine lining responds and thickens, not thins, thus not making the pill an abortifacient. Seems the bottom line is the pill can hinder implantation, but it’s not a given. The producers argue that regardless, women should be told of this possibility.  Women who believe life begins at conception in particular would want to know this. Fair enough.

But claiming the pill works as an abortifacient really depends on when you think life begins. At conception? Implantation? 1st trimester? 2nd trimester or when the embryo could potentially survive on its own? At birth? People may need to be more fully informed about how the pill works, but spreading the word that it causes abortion goes too far.  It is more accurate to say that if you believe life begins at conception, the pill may be a potential abortifacient.

Did you know this about the pill?  Do you think people are educated enough about how the pill works? Where do you stand on when life begins?

13 thoughts on “Does the Pill Cause Abortion?

  1. I’m not really sure where I stand on this, i know If I got pregnant I wouldn’t keep it. But I was talking to a work friend a while back and she had a friend who had an abortion at 4 1/2 to 5 month pregnant and I think If I didn’t find out till I was that far along I would just keep it and give it up for adoption at that point. Seems like if you made it half way, you might as well finish, but its a personal decision and I won’t judge anyone who does something different. I have no problem with BC either way though.

  2. I remember hearing this about the pill 15 years ago or so, and even though I have some reservations about certain kinds of abortion (such as late-term, or abortion for sex selection), this aspect of the pill never bothered me one bit. At the time, I was looking into Depo Provera for birth control, and the literature my doctor gave me on Depo described essentially the same thing — the primary function was to prevent ovulation, but in the unlikely instance that an egg were to be fertilized, Depo made the uterine lining “inhospitable” for implantation. To me, that was GOOD news.

    And though I am no medical professional, I have read that it is commonplace for fertilized eggs to fail to implant and to then be naturally flushed out of a woman’s body, even without chemical birth control. In that regard, chemical birth control is just encouraging something that nature already does.

    As far as when life begins… I don’t think anyone can answer that question with absolute certainty. As a Christian, I am well familiar with Bible verses about God knowing us even when we were in the womb, but none of those passages provide spiritual guidance on WHEN a person is imbued with a soul (which I suppose would be my definition of the beginning of a life). And it doesn’t seem that even science can agree on precisely what “life” is and when exactly it begins (and I mean what distinguishes a life that cannot be taken versus a life that can be taken — not too many people get bent out of shape about killing dandelions, grasshoppers, or mice).

  3. I figure life starts the day we start counting our age : birth. Simple enough. If people really thought life began at conception they’d add 9 months to their ages.

    I don’t have a problem with how the pill works and I don’t think sane people would. If one personally doesn’t like it, no one is forcing them to use it.

  4. To be upfront before I begin, I am both childfree and a Christian. I believe birth begins at conception, but I have also used the pill in the past. (Unfortunately, I have quite a few negative reactions to all of them I tried, so after a few years, I gave up.) I did a lot of research on the pill, and I spoke with many medical professionals as well as my own minister because I had heard the idea that the pill can cause abortions. After all my own personal research (and prayer, since I am a Christian that’s part of the whole deal for me 🙂 ), I realized how unlikely this was to happen. The way it works is to prevent ovulation and most (if not all) of the time, it does just that. We don’t know if it does or doesn’t work all of the time, but I was convicted that this was fine. (I have recently learned that I rarely, if ever, ovulate anyway, but that wasn’t known at the time. My childfree decision and birth control options were all chosen before any of my own medical issues were known.)

    My thoughts pretty much mirrored I.am.free’s understanding of the way it works and how it felt in regard to my own relationship to the zygote created during conception. I honestly have always felt that I am supposed to be a childfree Christian and believe that God has given us means to do other works simply because my husband and I are childfree. The pill may be one of the ways women (Christian or non) can do this without worrying about actual implantation and impregnation — I suppose my understanding of conception is a viable implantation of the zygote created after fertilization. Conception, to me, is more than simple fertilization; however, I could understand how others may disagree with that sentiment. (Well, I suppose anyone could disagree with almost any statement made, eh? 😉 )

    I am a meticulous researcher (I don’t trust many things without looking it up myself and verifying it with many sources), so when I was looking for a means of birth control when I got married, I looked into all options and their perceived pros/cons in the medical and religious communities. In the end, both communities meshed with my own prayer and understanding. (I’m glad to see another Christian who has thought this through as I have. Most I’ve met either don’t take it because they heard the idea or do take it because they hadn’t heard the idea — and once they did, started to reconsider their use of the pill.)

    Interesting discussion starter!

    1. Jessica,
      I wish everyone would do their research and make the best informed choice for them like you.. I have seen a number of documentaries and even talked to teen who are on the pill or using other kinds of birth control and really don’t know how it works, failure rates, etc. They are much less informed than they need to be to make goood decisions for themselves. I am a big proponent of comprehensive sex education in the schools, and of course Christians have habitually fought against this. However, I have seen of late that it is being done in more schools–non-religious comprehensive sex ed–this is a good thing~L

  5. It doesn’t bother me a bit if the pill prevents implantation. I agree with I.Am.Free, this is a good thing. What I don’t understand is why these Christians aren’t equally upset about unwanted frozen embryos that are thrown away when patients decide they don’t want them implanted. I really think it’s more about mucking about in women’s lives and trying to control them.

    1. You make a great point about Christians not seeming to go to the mat for embryos that aren’t wanted…I will look into what is written about this. I know they are typically against stem cell research… ~L

  6. Well I believe “life” begins at conception as the cells are alive. However, at conception, the zygote is not much better off than a parasite. It can’t survive outside the womb, and the woman isn’t technically pregnant until the blastocyst implants the uterus. If the definition of abortion is “the termination of a pregnancy,” then call the pill really be called “abortifacient” if it prevents pregnancy? One of the reasons women miscarry is because the body sees the zygote/embryo/fetus as an invader and tries to get rid of it during the first trimester anyway. Personally, I don’t think it’s sinful if a woman aborts an organism that has no central nervous system (and therefore doesn’t even know it’s alive) and is incapable of living outside her body. There’s no guarantee that it would have made it to term.

    Plus, I had a friend who was on birth control and still got pregnant. She ended up miscarrying, but just goes to show that if God really wants a woman to bring another life into the world, a pill can’t do anything about it!

    1. Christine, as I understand it there are those that believe the pill can act as an abortifacient since it can prevent implantation of the embryo. The pill prevents pregnancy, but in the event it does not and the sperm meets the egg, it can’t live because it can’t implant to the uterine wall. So technically it can act as both–birth control (pregnancy preventor) and abortifacient.

      To Christians reading the string, do you think that more feel the way Christine does — or that human life begins at conception, no if and’s or but’s? ~L

  7. I do not believe “life” begins at conception. Developing? Yes. Life? No. You are a lump of cells then and remain that way for quite a bit. Like I.am.free and others stated, our bodies will naturally flush out fertilized eggs (I wish I could find that whole statistic they had on it) quite a bit. Why? Because conditions aren’t right/something is wrong and your body knows it. Simple as that. A pill/patch/whatever makes those conditions really not right, which is a good thing, as if you’re sitting here on a childfree blog, that must mean you don’t want kids/try to prevent them, so something like the pill should be your “friend” in a sense. We need to stop scaring women of all ages about hormonal birth control and give the hard facts, really.

    Then again, I’m a Christian, and I don’t think religion should be brought into a discussion of birth control at all. It’s a medical discussion, not a religious one. You can make it a religious one all you want personally, but that’s for YOU, not anyone else.

    1. J–Agreed. It’s important to gbe able to get good and accurate information and access to birth control, and what we do with that info based on our attitudes and beliefs, religion included, should be left to us. This should relate to abortion as well. It is, thanks to the courts, as an issue of the right to privacy. And that right also applies to birth control. It is amazing to think that birth control was not even legal for all women married and not until 1972! ~L

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