Thursday, December 22, 2005

The information regarding the use of levonorgestrel for "emergency contraception" is conflicting and is spun by advocates/opponents. Even the use of this phrase ignores the possibility that fertilization would have occured by the time the pill is taken, and the pill works by preventing implantation. Opponents point out that this is abortion, not contraception.

Some authors have tried to redefine the beginning of a pregnancy as when implantation occurs, not fertilization. However, basic biology defines the creation of a new organism at the time of fertilization.
"Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei ... and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning ... of a human being." (Moore, Keith L., Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker, Inc., 1988, p.2.) "Although human life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed. ... The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity." (O'Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29). "Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote). ... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual." (Carlson, Bruce M., Patten's Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p.3.) "Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus." (Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146.) "The fertilized egg, now properly called an embryo, must make its way to the uterus." (Carlson, Bruce M., Human Embryology and Developmental Biology. St. Louis: Mosby, 1994, p.3).
Many are advocating the clearance of the "Morning After Pill" to be sold OTC. Many of those same people are critical of the FDA for delaying this approval. I can't imagine why the FDA would consider approving MAP for sale OTC if politics were out of the picture. The only reason to sell MAP OTC is related to "women's rights" and is a political issue. What other hormonal medication is sold OTC? Why aren't regular OCP's sold OTC? How do the propronents think these can be kept from girls under whatever age they think is politically palatable?

Why do so many argue that MAP is not an abortofacient? Obviously they want to ignore the issue of abortion. Ignoring this issue is a political issue. They know the debate would be much broader if this issue were included.

Opponents argue that making MAP easily available would increase the rate of STD's by decreasing the incentive to use condoms. If your primary reason for using a condom is contraception, this would make sense. Why use a condom when you can just pop a pill after sex and prevent pregnancy? OTOH, I hope we are educating people about the risk of STD and the need for barrier methods (or my recommendation, abstinence).

UPDATE:
In response to a question in the comments about anti-implantation vs anti-ovulation, the company that manufactures Preven, Roberts Pharmaceutical, stated, "more often it would prevent implantation."
Jennifer Kessell, spokeswoman for Roberts Pharmaceuticals, the Oakville, Ont., Canadian manufacturer of the drug, sells Preven as though it were a new shade of eyeliner. "They're not sure of the ins and outs of it," she says. "But it's thought to work two main ways." First, by delaying ovulation, and second, by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg into the women's uterus. More often it would prevent implantation, she confirms. Ms. Kessell offers Preven as an alternative to abortion which "ends the life that is already implanted." She also calls it "emergency contraception" that prevents pregnancy.

But isn't Preven for women who believe they are already pregnant? Is this a new definition of pregnancy? "There's different definitions [of pregnancy] depending on where you live," offers Ms. Kessell. "Most doctors would say pregnancy begins at implantation," she continues. Only "anti- abortionists" would say life begins "when the sperm meets the egg. Period." Pregnancy begins when a woman is "comfortable" with it beginning, she adds . "It depends on your own personal views and what you want to believe."
Pro-abortion groups have tried to redefine pregnancy as beginning with implantation, not with contraception. I don't know any physicians who hold this view. Of course, this view would be very convenient for those who don't want to have the drug labelled as an abortofacient. The quotes above should clearly indicate the scientific falacy of this viewpoint.