INVENTOR SLAMS THE PILL
Eighty five year old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who
helped invent the contraceptive pill now says that his
co-creation has led to a "demographic catastrophe."
In an article published by the Vatican this week, the head
of the world's Catholic doctors broadened the attack on the
pill, claiming it had also brought "devastating ecological
effects" by releasing into the environment "tons of
hormones" that had impaired male fertility.
The assault began with a personal commentary in the Austrian
newspaper Der Standard by Carl Djerassi. The Austrian
chemist was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic
progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward the
earliest oral contraceptive pill.
Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred
because of the population imbalance, for which his invention
was partly to blame. He 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
He described families who had decided against reproduction
as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest
of the world to get on with it."
The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an "epidemic" far
worse, but given less attention, than obesity. Young
Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they
failed to procreate. And if it were not possible to reverse
the population decline they would have to understand the
necessity of an "intelligent immigration policy."
The head of Austria's Catholics, Cardinal Christoph
Schonborn, told an interviewer that the Vatican had forecast
40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in
the birth rate in the west.
"Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi ... is saying
that each family has to produce three children to maintain
population levels, but we're far away from that," he said.
Schonborn told Austrian TV that when he first read Pope Paul
VI's 1968 encyclical condemning artificial contraception he
viewed it negatively as a "cold shower." But he said he had
altered his views as, over time, it had proved "prophetic."
Writing for the Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, the
president of the World Federation of Catholic Medical
Associations, Dr. Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, said research
from his association also showed the pill "worked in many
cases with a genuinely ... abortive effect."
The Spanish doctor pointed to the Federation's recent
document commemorating the 40th anniversary of Humanae
Vitae, which "irrefutably shows that the most widely used
anti-ovulatory pill in the industrialized world, the one
made with low doses of estrogen and progesterone, in many
cases works with an anti-implantation effect; that is,
abortifacient [effect], because it expels a small human
Castellvi also pointed out that "this anti-implantation
effect is acknowledged in scientific literature, which
shamelessly speaks of an embryo loss rate. Curiously,
however, this information does not reach the public at
He also pointed to the "devastating ecological effects of
the tons of hormones discarded into the environment each
year. We have sufficient data to state that one of the
causes of masculine infertility in the West is the
environmental contamination caused by the products of the
'pill'." Castellvi noted as well that the International
Agency for Research on Cancer reported in 2005 that the pill
has carcinogenic effects.
After explaining that the "natural methods of regulating
fertility [NFP] are the ones that are effective and that
respect the nature of the person," Castellvi stated that "in
celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of the Rights of Man we can say that the
contraceptive methods violate at least five important
rights: the right to life, the right to health, the right to
education, the right to information (its dissemination
occurs to the detriment of information about natural
methods) and the right of equality between the sexes
(responsibility for contraceptive use almost always falls to
After underscoring the importance of sexual relations within
marriage for the union and growth in love of the spouses,
Castellvi pointed out that “the doctrine of Humanae Vitae is
largely ignored because, among other reasons, at the time
doctors did not accept it.”
“The opposite question,” he continued, “can help us see how
prophetic Paul VI was. If he would have accepted the ‘pill,’
would we today be able to know of its anti-implantation
effects?” Castellvi wrote.
“A doctor’s prestige lies in being able to authoritatively
offer to couples alternatives to contraceptives. The
relationship between doctor and patient is so strong that it
can only be broken with great difficulty, even if between
the two it seems to be like a dissident theologian.
Therefore it is necessary that we teach and inform doctors
more and better about fertility,” he said.
Castellvi said Catholic doctors would continue working for
advancements in their profession but suggested that “the
Holy See should respectfully create a special commission for
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